Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Peninsula News review coverage of North Saanich Candidates

Peninsula News Review

North Saanich Mayor runs again

With two terms as mayor and a term on North Saanich council under his belt, Ted Daly has decided to contest the chair again during this year’s municipal election. “I decided that I still have some unfinished business,” he said. “I looked at my [campaign] brochure from last time, and there are a couple of issues that we haven’t got to.”

One of those is housing, he said, both for younger people needing starter homes and for seniors looking to remain in the community. “I firmly believe we need to be more of an inclusive community,” he said. “A community isn’t a community unless we welcome everyone.”

While he recognizes that there has been some discussion about what ‘affordable housing’ could mean in a municipality like North Saanich, Daly said that he has a clear idea of what he wants to see being built: “Starter housing, smaller houses, that people can start out with. We don’t have anything like that in the district.”

For seniors, he doesn’t buy into the idea that says seniors in North Saanich can simply move across the highway to Sidney if they need to downsize. “I’ve talked to seniors who said, why should I have to leave if I’ve lived here for 30 years?” he said.

The other issue is the tax base in the municipality, which Daly would like to diversify. He feels that homeowners are carrying a disproportionate amount of the load with municipal taxes. “We need to include an industrial and commercial tax base.”

Both those issues took steps forward during Daly’s last term; the airport land, which he sees as a prime location for industrial and commercial development, will now be the site of a warehouse and office facilities along Mills Road.

During his last term, housing also took a step forward with the housing strategy. Council has currently agreed to look at allowing secondary suites, but left other questions in the strategy — such as higher density housing around the highway and airport — for the next council.

Daly said he feels some of the properties that developers are currently looking at are suitable for housing. “One, on McDonald Park Road by Parkland school, is a perfect location; it’s not rural, it’s on a busy street, near transport and beside a high school,” he said. “The other is in the Canora/Rideau area, beside the Park-and-Ride; it’s across from the airport.”

Daly said that he has been battling a perception that he would like to “ruin the rural ambiance of North Saanich” ever since he first ran for council 10 years ago. That, he says, isn’t true; he recognizes the importance of the rural and marine ambiance and heritage of the district and believes that staff and council have made ongoing strides in protecting both.

As to those who would accuse him of trying to completely develop North Saanich, he doesn’t think there are any projects created over the past decade that people can point to to prove it. “Am I pro-development? Yeah, I am,” he said, but that, he emphasized, doesn’t mean he wants to put a Home Depot or Costco on every corner.

There was one element of his last campaign that hasn’t happened that won’t be back on the agenda this time — the idea of village centres. “That’s something I put out there, and it didn’t fly,” he said, adding that he still thinks it’s a good notion. In fact, some of the things he saw as part of that controversial proposal have actually gone on to happen — the farmers’ market that started at the Deep Cove Market this summer fit perfectly with his vision of places for people to gather. “I think maybe my vision wasn’t clearly expressed [at the time],” he said. “I take some of the blame for that; maybe I wasn’t very clear about my vision of village centres.”

This time around, Daly isn’t running as part of a team; he thinks that Bob Shaw and Sheilah Fea, who were a part of that group three years ago, have successfully made their mark on council and, if they choose to run (Shaw has said he will), won’t need the backing of a team.

Daly recognizes that he may, if re-elected, face another split council, where opinions on central issues are divided on the seven-member body. He’s thought about how to keep council working better together as a team, however. “I put out a brochure with my vision, and if I’m elected as mayor and the majority of council doesn’t share my vision, that’s a tough position for me to be in,” he said. “I look at it and say, I’ve got to work with council to look at the issues that got them elected, and find common areas where we share a vision. If you work together on a common vision at the beginning, that will pull you together.”

Recently retired from his job as a labour relations negotiator, Daly believes that — aside from six years of experience in the role — he’s got the personality and the drive to be mayor. For one, he’s good at, and enjoys, the social side.

“A big part of the mayor’s job is promoting the district … I’m very much a people person,” he said.

He believes his track record shows what he can do.

“I’ve always been a self-starter, and always been an organizer,” he said. “I was president of the little league, and we needed a new ball park; that’s why I ran for council the first time … building Rotary Park, people said it couldn’t be done. Not only did it get done, it got built by volunteers and we got a major grant.

“You can get things done when you get people coming together; that’s something a mayor has to be able to do.”


Peninsula News Review

Second term time for focus on environment

After her first three years on North Saanich council, Cairine Green believes she’s learned a bit about what it takes to keep things moving in municipal politics. On her her new blog, which asks readers to ‘re-elect Cairine Green for councillors,’ she lists good listening skills, compromise, courage, and checking your ego at the door as necessities for getting work done.

Now she’s hoping to take what she learned in the first term into the upcoming three-year stint.

“I believe my record speaks for itself,” said Green. “I was elected as an independent, grass roots candidate and have worked hard to balance community needs.” She believes that she still has that grass roots support behind her in the new campaign, and added that residents have told her they appreciate her honesty. “They always knew where I stood on important issues,” she said.

Important issues for the next term include environment and land use, Green said. “North Saanich residents are passionate about land use,” she said. “They realize that careful planning is fundamental if we want to protect rural and agricultural lands for future use.” With regards to implementing the recommendations of the housing strategy, Green said she supports the inclusion of secondary suites in the district.

“Secondary suites provide a range of options for all age groups that address housing attainbility and concerns about high density.”

She said she believes that the 2007 Ipsos-Reid survey of North Saanich residents highlighted their concerns about growth and the environment, and that her record in council over the past three years has shown her interest in those topics. She said she introduced the first “no idle” zone on municipal grounds, advocated to establish an Agricultural Advisory Commission, supported a marine task force and a new municipal carbon neutral reserve fund, and was council liaison to the North Saanich Environmental Advisory Commission as well as to the local First Nations.

Green, who believes that North Saanich is at a crossroads in the next election, hopes that residents take the time to learn about all the candidates and the issues.

“I think that North Saanich voters will have a clear choice about which direction they want this municipality to take,” she said.

Visit Green online at her blog, cairinegreen.blogspot.com.


Peninsula News Review

Shaw runs again

Councillor puts focus on housing, finances

North Saanich councillor Bob Shaw has announced that he will run for a second term in this November’s municipal election. He said that the decision to run for re-election was not an easy one, citing this term’s split council, which led to situations such as the 4-3 vote on the Panorama waterslide tower height issue, as a frustration. Shaw voted in favour of the waterslide height variance.

“The majority of residents in North Saanich are under-represented,” Shaw said. “Council decision-making has been unduly influenced by special interest groups and a vocal minority who want no change — no growth, commercial development, or housing options for families and seniors.” He said he wanted to see a return to representative, responsible and accountable government, with efficient and effective decision making in council. “I’m hoping that we’ve all learned from the experience, and that we will all learn to achieve things on a consensus basis and work towards achieving that,” he said of this term’s council.

Shaw’s priorities for a second term would include implementation of the recommendations in the housing strategy, especially those related to secondary suites and housing for young families and seniors. Growth around the highway, as recommended in the strategy, makes a lot of sense to Shaw. “The regional growth strategy suggests that we have housing in or around transportation and shopping, and certainly I think the area along McDonald Park Road and Canora Road would provide that; as well, it would have the least impact on existing neighbourhoods,” he said.

Shaw would look to implement the Marine Task Force report recommendations, although he said that there was work to be done with the shoreline inventory and respecting the rights of waterfront property owners. As well, he hopes that the development of the agricultural strategic plan will help the district promote and protect agriculture in North Saanich. Public consultation, he emphasized, would be a cornerstone of decision-making for him.

Shaw, who says he is committed to minimizing the residential tax burden, has acquired some expertise on that issue in his day-to-day life: when not meeting in council chambers, he is a chartered accountant with experience in the area of local government finance and operations. “I really do understand municipal finance and operations,” he said.

He added that he felt the district needed to focus on better long-term financial planning and careful infrastructure improvement. “All the issues have financial implications and it’s important for me to sit on council and provide the benefit of my experience,” he said.


Peninsula News Review

Farmer, author, goes for third

With two terms under her belt, North Saanich councillor Anny Scoones has decided to try for another one.

“My focus is to continue to maintain the delicate balance of slow growth and economic diversity, with the enhancement of our rural, cultural, marine and agricultural assets,” she said.

Scoones said she believes that housing and development issues continue to be a priority for the municipality; those elected to council will face decisions on the recommendations of the housing strategy soon after the start of their term.

“I support low density, well designed, environmentally sound housing and housing options, such as secondary suites and clustering, in appropriately zoned pockets of North Saanich,” she said.

With the current world financial situation, Scoones said that fiscal restraint in the municipality would be key over the next three years. She suggested a cap to budget increases for each department as well as more pro-active pursuit of grants as two ways to handle economic strain. “I support economic ventures in keeping with the tone and pace of our community, such as our new farmers’ market, agritourism, and recreational or cultural pursuits such as eco-tourism and regulated bed-and-breakfasts,” she said.

The environment and related issues have long been a special interest of Scoones’; she lists herself as having advocated for restrictions on the cosmetic use of pesticides, ‘best practice’ approaches towards the marine industry, and the preservation of rural hedgerows. During the next term she would look to see the district’s trail and bicycle path network and park space expanded.

“Outdoor burning is one issue which defines our rural nature,” she said, adding that she supports outdoor burning regulations and would be willing to consider extending the burning days if it included public education.

“Using common sense, creative and thoughtful ideas, and a slow, not a no-growth approach, our lifestyle in North Saanich can only be enhanced,” Scoones said.

Peninsula News Review

Blueberry farmer a council candidate

Local businesswoman Ruby Commandeur believes she can enhance the character that makes North Saanich a unique community, and that a seat on council is the way to do it.

“I’m running because I believe it takes determined leadership to value and appreciate this unique place where we all live and work,” said Commandeur. “Growing a greener North Saanich is my vision.”

Commandeur has wide-ranging business experience. She began her own chiropractic practice and founded a radiology clinic in Victoria; now she is the owner and operator of Ruby Red Farms, Vancouver Island’s largest organic blueberry farm. Farm and rural land are important aspects of North Saanich in Commandeur’s campaign. “North Saanich is one of the last pastoral gems in the Capital Regional District,” she said. “Residents have told me their priorities are retaining our rural character, green space, trails, marine habitat and ensuring that North Saanich remains a safe and tranquil place to raise their families.”

 Commandeur added that the 2007 Ipsos-Reid survey indicated that residents are concerned about unmanaged growth and urban sprawl in the community.

Financial accountability is another keystone of Commandeur’s council campaign. “I will hammer away on the need to be accountable and transparent on how, why, and where we spend taxpayers’ money,” she said.

 She has experience in the political realm; she was North Saanich’s appointee to the Peninsula Agriculture Commission, and sat on planning committees for two provincial ministries as a special needs advisor. She’s also a community advocate for people with special needs, she said. “I understand the necessity to have inclusive communities and affordable and accessible housing,” she said, emphasizing that the municipality needed to adopt a collaborative model for planning and focus on public consultation.

Updates on Commandeur’s campaign will be available at www.rubyc.ca.


Peninsula News Review

Housing key, North Saanich candidate says

For years, Janet Rooke had kept a close eye on her children’s future. She joined Parent Advisory Councils to have a say in their schooling and volunteered with other organizations to make sure they were getting the best preparation possible for life.

Then, as they grew up, she stopped to look around at North Saanich, the community they were growing in, and realized that when they hit adulthood, they probably wouldn’t be able to stick around.

“I was appalled to find there are very few opportunities for young people in this community,” she said. “It seemed the best North Saanich can do is to stick them in a suite in somebody’s basement.”

Now a candidate for North Saanich council, Rooke has announced that her main focus will be on providing better housing for young families, seniors, and workers in the community. She said she believes that suitable development proposals have come to council — offering multi-unit housing for young families or seniors — but that they have all been delayed or turned down. Areas near the highway and Sidney would be good locations for similar proposals, she added.

“I do not believe that secondary suites are the right way to treat young families or seniors,” she said. “Surely they deserve better than that.” She added that those who work in the community also have few options besides commuting.

“We want them to wait our tables, pump our gas, fix our cars and our boats but apparently don’t want them living near us,” she said.

Rooke would also look to increase employment opportunities in the district through an increase in commercial business opportunities. “This would have the advantage of broadening the tax base and easing the tax burden on homeowners,” she said. With her own day job in the marine industry, she said she believes that many of the recommendation in the Marine Task Force report would be helpful in opening up that industry and related jobs.

“There are those that oppose any development in North Saanich, saying that any new development is the thin edge of wedge, and will ruin the rural atmosphere,” she said. “I want to change this; I believe we all have a common goal to maintain the rural atmosphere of North Saanich. However, I believe there are some places in North Saanich that could be developed to provide housing … without impacting our valuable rural ambiance.”

Local architect runs for council

Architect Curtis Miles is hoping that a position on North Saanich council will be an opportunity to consider the needs of the municipality’s future residents.

“There’s a need to look to the future and ensure that North Saanich grows in response to the needs of its present, and, equally important, its future residents,” he said. “To do so will require a mature and responsible council.”

Miles, who has lived in North Saanich for 20 years, said that his past experience would serve him well on council. He is the past presidnet of the Sidney Rotary, a director on the boards of groups like the Children’s Wish Foundation and Big Sister/Big Brothers Society, and has sat on advisory design and heritage design panels. His work as an architect, he said, gives him an interest and grounding in the growth of communities.

Miles would look to support affordable housing and housing for seniors, if elected, as well as protecting the community’s rural and agricultural nature. “I want to see that we protect our green spaces while ensuring that new growth is responsible,” he said.

He also intends to take a strong stance on taxes, believing that there should be no increase. “I believe in fiscal restraint, by supporting new initiatives and streamlining old, all to achieve balanced budgets,” he said. He would also work to bring transparency to district proceedings and work to review the district’s rules and regulations to determine if any are outdated.

“North Saanich is a pearl in today’s noisy and polluted urban settings,” he said. “As residents of this precious community, we should share in its uniqueness and its opportunities to continue to have a special place in the Peninsula.”


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