Guest column: First 100 days on Saanich council a roller coaster ride

Coun. Colin Plant weighs in on life as a Saanich councillor

By Saanich Coun. Colin Plant

Just over 100 days ago, my life changed significantly.

On Dec. 1, I was sworn in as a Saanich councillor. And while it has been just over three months, I can honestly state that what I have already experienced is far beyond my expectations. I love the job. I like the people I’ve met and I’m learning to understand the politics.

I’m flattered that at least once a day someone asks what it’s like to be a Saanich councillor. Actually, they typically start by asking about the situation with our mayor. I indicate that we are focusing on working better together and are committed to making Saanich an even greater place to live. The answer I then offer is that I have a lot to learn because there is so much to know about how Saanich is governed.

While nobody wanted the start-up that we had (spyware, CAOs and police allegations – oh my!), I believe Saanich is slowly returning to its natural state as an excellent municipality run by a dedicated staff and a mayor and council who care deeply about their community.

One of my first decisions as a councillor was related to the CAO situation. It ended up being a decision that cost nearly $500,000. At the time, it was the most expensive decision I had personally ever been involved with.  Now, council is working on the Saanich budget of over $240 million and again I am a tad overwhelmed. Thankfully, the incumbents have been patient by listening and answering all my questions.

So what else have I noticed? I’m busy. Insanely busy.  I had no idea how many people would want to meet and discuss their concerns.  So many organizations want to meet and tell you about the great work they do. I knew there would be lots of meetings but not this many.  And so much reading.  Each week I spend at least six to seven hours reading agendas and reports.  Did I mention I’m still teaching full-time?

One of the hidden blessings of being a new councillor in Saanich was that while many of my new colleagues were quite distressed by the events of our first few weeks in office, I did not know any different because I was new. Maybe it was always going to be this dramatic and political. It is only now as things have quieted down that I appreciate being in the media is really only something you want when things are going well.

So what’s next? Well the answer is that we govern and get the business of Saanich done. The budget process is in full swing and strategic planning for the future is about to begin.

Will there be more conflict in Saanich? Probably. However, a council that agrees on all issues is probably not representative of the diversity in a community. One thing we do agree on is that we all want Saanich to be a great municipality.

As a teacher I have a rediscovered respect for my students who are inundated with homework.  I’ve worked so much harder since being elected. But unlike a student getting a quick result on their test, Council’s efforts are graded by the results that come later from our decisions. I have already learned that these decisions have real impacts on our residents’ lives and pocketbooks.

I also think the mayor is a very smart man who made some mistakes early on in his new job. I dare say most of us have probably made mistakes when we are in a new job. The only difference is that our mistakes are very public and can be quite expensive. I still support him.  His personal life is off limits in my mind.

 

Just Posted

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

Sea Cadets host a garage sale for Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground

Proceeds from a garage sale going to the Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground.

Nurse comes home to ‘dream job’ at Saanich Peninsula Hospital

Jane Fox is the first Aboriginal liaison nurse at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital

Killer clowns and chainsaw-wielding ghouls descend on Central Saanich corn maze

Fright Night takes place at Saanichton Corn Maze Oct 19, 26

Key tag program leads to new respirator at Jubilee Hospital

TB Vets donate 28 life-saving respirators around B.C.

VIDEO: Greater Victoria, here’s the news you missed this weekend

Dog killed in alleged hit and run, Goodlife Marathon takes over city and more

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

The one with the ‘Friends’ photoshoot: Kelowna group recreates TV show intro

A friend’s departure prompted them to create something that really says, “I’ll be there for you”

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Most Read