• Affordable housing
Community liveability means that we have a broad range of residents, including all economic levels. There is strength in diversity. To develop affordable housing, senior levels of government, particularly the federal government, must be engaged. Affordability must encompass the full spectrum of housing choices-from shared accommodations, to rentals to home ownership.
• Climate change
As the Executive Director, Carbon Neutral Government & Community Engagement at the Climate Action Secretariat, I proudly led the Climate Action Charter for local government. Saanich was one of the first signatories to the charter and has shown great leadership. We now have the opportunity to build on this success, to show leadership and literally act locally while thinking globally. The key to any climate change initiative is the implementation of climate change plans. While planning is critical, action is key.
• Food security
For too long, governments have focussed on protecting farmland without enough focus on protecting the farmers. Food security initiatives are some of necessary first steps to do so. Local markets, support for local produce & producers must not lead us to a closed mindset however. The fine balance between local sourcing & high food standards to maintain public heath are critical.
• Saanich's aging demographics
As a mature community, we are blessed with mature residents. The reality of living in an attractive community is that Saanich will continue to attract retirees. Through housing affordability initiatives, we can also attract young families but the demographics of aging are such that Saanich must adapt to offer residents services to meet their needs not the other way round. Weekday demand at recreation centres, additional supports for snow clearing and mobility challenges are just a few examples of how we must move to accommodate seniors needs.
• Light rail transit on the Douglas Street corridor
Saanich has endorsed a motion supporting light Rail Transit on the Douglas corridor as the preferred transportation choice. The key to making any transportation corridor work is real densification. The community cannot afford to make infrastructure investments without the partnerships of residents and the development community. This will mean true densification and thus, single family homes along these corridors simply cannot be supported. Council will have to show strength of will to ensure the correct densification takes place or transit corridors will not be financially viable.
• Other transportation issues
While we continue to encourage residents to use public transit, carpools, cycling and all green transportation options, we know that vehicular traffic will not cease. We must continue to offer transportation options to residents. Saanich must move traffic efficiently. & where appropriate continue good works in our neighbourhoods to maintain their liveability. .
• Sewage treatment
I am concerned that the Region has moved toward treatment, expending significant funds on the understanding that senior level governments not only supported the initiative but mandated it. Now these funds are in jeopardy. The CRD must comply with these regulations but cannot afford to build an enterprise of this nature without senior level support. Saanich must ensure the previous commitments of two thirds of the capital costs are honoured by the Provincial and Federal Governments.
• Tax increases to pay for major projects
It is often too easy for some politicians to commit to projects and forget the impact on the taxpayers. That is not my way - the incremental effect of tax increases cannot be ignored. Saanich has an excellent reputation for sound fiscal planning – which we must maintain. There will always be more demand on our capital budgets than there are funds available and it is up to me as your Councillor to prioritise.
• Urban centres and long-term land-use planning
Saanich has an excellent set of Official Community Plan, Local Area Plans, Environmental, Climate Action, Transportation & other plans. Each of these has been developed with community input. Rather than demand new approaches, we need to focus on integration and implementation of these plans. In particular, we need to focus on ensuring that we do not compromise our longer (~25 year) term plans when implementing programs, and projects in the short term.
• Wildlife management
As a rural Saanich resident, l am keenly aware of the abundance of wildlife in our community. While we, in rural Saanich, may find this attractive, not all wildlife is seen as welcome visitor to Saanich properties. While some dismiss the damage to gardens as superficial, we will not advance local food production on urban lots without a management plan. In addition to this, my concerns centre on the human-animal interaction. It was just a few years ago when a cyclist was killed when he hit a deer on our streets and ICBC says vehicle/deer crashes have increased substantially year over year. Wildlife management for this reason alone is a necessity.
While it seems simple to say that with 13 municipalities there must be redundancies, Saanich as the largest municipality of 115,000 and 1500 employees is a model of efficiency. Saanich has done such a good job of rationalising service that we provide services for police and fire dispatch to many of the other communities. I do not believe that we would be doing the citizens of Saanich any favours if we amalgamated – service levels would decrease, taxation would go up and representation would go down. The most important thing is to increase integration and continue to offer the opportunity for the smaller communities to join us.