LETTER: New ideas needed on council

Mayor Richard Atwell was part of the Police Board that changed the contract of police chief Bob Downie . A huge severance package was paid to Mr. Downie under an existing contract that was approved by previous mayor Frank Leonard and the existing board at that time.

Then Mayor Atwell rehired Mr. Downie as a contractor without discussing it with Saanich council. I realize he is the chairman of the Police Board, however, he must respect the council and consult them before making such a big decision. Having his public relations department make such an announcement without notifying his council beforehand is a no-no. How much is the present police chief being paid and what is the length of his contract? Was this position advertised and open for all qualified candidates?

While on this point, why was the police department budget increased by 27 per cent last year and the fire department by 15 per cent? In the mayor’s letter to Saanich property owners, there was no reason or details provided for these enormous increases. These expense items were left out of the picture or skimmed over. His letter reported some positive improvements, for instance the Parks Department improvements and other less significant administrative items.

My next point: Mayor Atwell and council cancelled the contract of the previous chief administrative officer at a cost to taxpayers and hired Paul Thorkelsson as his replacement. Do you see a pattern?

Now he wants to push for amalgamation. We have a first-term mayor who had no political experience as a Saanich councillor dictating his views. We have dissension between the mayor and within council, and trust has become a huge issue with council and the public.

We need more candidates to run as mayor and new ideas and reasoning on council.

The structure of council has to be rearranged. That means limiting the number of terms an official can stand for re-election, shortening the terms to three years and reducing the size of council. We do not need eight members on council. In the past decade the population of Saanich has grown only by about 10,000 people. How come?

Jim Cunliffe


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