Saanich mayor: Candidate profiles and positions

We asked candidates to fill out a questionnaire about their background and their positions on some issues facing their communities.

Here are their answers, as submitted by them. The answers are split into two sections: information about the candidates, and their views on issues facing the community.

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Candidates

There are four people running for mayor:

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Richard Atwell

Previous elected and/or community experience.

Elected Mayor of Saanich (2014)

Appointments:
- Chair, Saanich Police Board
- Director, Capital Regional District
- Victoria Regional Transit Commission
- Regional Water Supply Commission

The journey to the mayor's office starting with my community association where I discovered my love for community building and local issues.

Community Involvement:
- Falaise Community Association (Past Director)
- Sewage Treatment Action Group (Past Director)

Why are you running? What's your motivation?

I have always been inspired by Margaret Mead's quote, ""Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.""

I also have a fundamental belief in empowering people through an open, citizen-centered approach to decision making.

As mayor, you have my commitment that if re-elected, I'll ensure that we will harness the power of the community and with your ideas and support, we will move Saanich forward.

What are your top three issues?

1. Traffic and Safety

As Saanich grows, greater demands are being placed on our infrastructure. Whether you are driving, walking or cycling, road safety and efficient flow of traffic must be improved.

2. Affordability

Saanich taxes need to be brought down closer to the rate of inflation through fiscal restraint.

3. Environment

Replacing the EDPA with a sound policy that makes sense for homeowners must be established to keep densification in balance with Saanich's natural beauty."

What's your vision for your community in 25 years?

Saanich can continue to be an affordable, easy to travel within community that offers the highest quality-of-life on Vancouver Island.

The next 25 years will be a critical time in Saanich where the housing stock from the 1950 to 1970s will be densified and transportation as we know it will be transformed.

I will ensure that the desires of our community are clearly defined with an updated and forward-thinking community plan built upon your input and widespread community approval.

What's one "big idea" you have for your community?

Governments have fallen far behind on technology. To stay competitive, reduce costs and improve services, Saanich must modernize the way it communicates with its citizens.

I will move Saanich away from paper-based methods and create a Saanich App that residents can access from their mobile phones.

They will be able to pay bills; file bylaw and parking complaints; receive development notifications and send feedback; complete surveys and conduct referendums, all at a reduced cost.

Fred Haynes

Previous elected and/or community experience.

A councillor since 2014, community volunteer since 2003. Council: South Island Prosperity Project; Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness; Peninsula & Area Agricultural Commission; Planning, Transport & Economic Advisory Committee. Non-Council: Connections Place Soc.; Saanich Community Assoc. Network; Saanich Legacy Foundation, Prospect Lake Community Assoc., Peninsula Stream Soc.; Prospect Lake Preservation Soc; UVic. Community Assoc. Committee and more. Recognizing this work, 320 community leaders and individuals signed my nomination papers.

Why are you running? What's your motivation?

I'm excited to run as Mayor because this amazing community has such potential. If elected, I will work hard to: improve housing supply; act now on traffic, sidewalks, road safety; protect green and agricultural spaces, ensure service excellence. Plus keep residential taxes low by building our business tax base in core centers - Uptown-Douglas, Shelbourne, Glanford, and get a slice of BC's Sports Tourism and Film economy. These are big challenges. I have shown I work collaboratively for solutions. Innovative thinking is needed on today's problems. Let's pull together and expect more.

What are your top three issues?

1. Balancing housing for a growing population with needs for greenspace and livable roads. We need to correct our housing shortage without creating a concrete jungle or intolerable road congestion. Let's have all ideas on the table.

2. Good fiscal management on municipal costs and income. Let's place a priority on service efficiency plus economic development to attract new business to reduce pressures on residential taxes, plus grow good jobs.

3. Respect resident's ballot decision for the study by a Citizen's Assembly re-amalgamating with Victoria.

What's your vision for your community in 25 years?

My vision is a future Saanich where our grandchildren thrive, live, work and play. With progressive planning we can maintain the amazing livability and natural spaces we all enjoy. Excellent regional public transit, safe streets, housing density in our corridors and villages, plus good local jobs. Our Urban Containment Boundary will be preserved to protect our agricultural lands. Local farming will be larger part of our food security. A Biodiversity Strategy will enable our parks and private lands to better mitigate climate change. Our tree canopy will have thrived.

What's one "big idea" you have for your community?

I ran for council, and I'm running for Mayor on "new ideas and a fresh approach". Let's be bold in our initiatives and think outside the box. In result, we will get "big things" for Saanich. E.g: our regional South Island Prosperity Project, funded by Saanich, is short listed for a $10 million Federal grant for Smart Transportation. Saanich successfully championed new provincial funding for student housing. With more students on-campus, community homes are freed up for families. Let's collaborate, look globally for great solutions, then partner and work together to EXPECT MORE!

David Shebib

Previous elected and/or community experience.

 

Why are you running? What's your motivation?

Freedom

What are your top three issues?

truth justice and Freedom

What's your vision for your community in 25 years?


What's one "big idea" you have for your community?


Rob Wickson

Previous elected and/or community experience.

Community has been a big part of my life and these are some of the organizations and committees I have been involved with:
President Gorge Tillicum Community Association 2008-2018, Founding member of the Gorge Canada Day Picnic, Member of the Saanich Douglas/Uptown Corridor Study, Member of the Moving Saanich Forward active transportation committee, Director of the Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society, President of Bike to Work Week Victoria, Chair BC Chamber of Commerce 2006/07, and President Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce 2000

Why are you running? What's your motivation?

Saanich residents deserve a collaborative choice for mayor. I've heard from fellow residents that our community needs a mayor who is independent, who can collaborate with everyone on council, and who can lead our community to tackle the challenges and seize our opportunities. That is what I have done as a business owner and volunteer over the past 30 years. As mayor I will ensure our council and community works together for the future of Saanich.

What are your top three issues?

HOUSING AFFORDABILITY & SMART PLANNING
PUBLIC HEALTH AND HOMELESSNESS
TRANSPORTATION FOR NOW AND THE FUTURE
EXPAND OUR VIBRANT BUSINESS COMMUNITY
FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

What's your vision for your community in 25 years?

The next 25 years for Saanich will the most important in its history as we transform from a predominantly suburban/rural community to a combination of modern urban centres that will enhance and protect the values of our rural and suburban neighbourhoods.

What's one "big idea" you have for your community?

Policy and positions

We asked candidates to share positions on some of key issues facing communities and how they hope to address them. Here are their answers, organized by topic.

Click on a link to jump to that section:

Amalgamation  

Richard Atwell

With regional planning and transportation challenges affecting affordability and quality of life, our region is struggling as it becomes a major metropolitan area.

I am proud to have participated in the formulation of citizens' assembly ballot question where citizens, not politicians will decide.

This is an exciting development and I hope that citizens in both municipalities will vote in favour of establishing the assembly that will put the power of study and decision making into their hands.

Fred Haynes

I have an evidence-based approach and open mind. On October 20th, residents can vote in the ballot to say yes or no to establishing a Citizens' Assembly to examine amalgamating with Victoria. If elected as Mayor, I will follow the democratic decision of Saanich residents. Regardless of the ballot, I am committed to responsive government, cost effective service delivery, including shared services where beneficial.

David Shebib

 

Rob Wickson

My position on this topic is to seek more clarity about the costs and benefits, but not just the fiscal issues. We also need to understand how neighbourhoods will align under a revised municipal structure and will we have better control over things like local policing, environmental stewardship, housing affordability, homelessness, and transportation planning.

Transportation

Richard Atwell

"While everyone is affected by transportation changes, citizens have had very limited input into design and decision making.

The United for Saanich platform supports the creation of a citizen-led traffic committee so residents can fully participate in addressing and solving traffic and safety issues.

With comprehensive community participation, we can ensure that sound decisions are made that won't impact our neighbourhoods negatively."

Fred Haynes

Transit, traffic and roads need integrated regional planning. To increase transit ridership, address regional roads and reduce commute times we need to change the Victoria Regional Transit Commission to a Transportation Commission. We need to refocus our infrastructure priorities to take actions to improve road safety and the commute experience for all. We should use some of the long-term infrastructure and surplus funds put way each year to upgrade road safety now. The $10 Million Federal Smart City Grant we are in the running for would be pivotal to improving convenience and commute times.

David Shebib

 

Rob Wickson

There is a real need for a strong transportation planning process for the region in order to support Saanich initiatives. I would advocate for regional transportation authority.

Affordability

Richard Atwell

The cost of a single-family home is now out of the financial reach of many families trying to enter the housing market.

I support buildings with the appropriate height, density and underground parking that are compatible with existing neighbourhoods.

Multi-family residential housing units, especially with 2-3 bedrooms that share in the land costs, will help fill in the housing ladder by providing affordable options for young couples and families.

Fred Haynes

This is an expensive place. We can address affordability by enabling people to live, work and play in Saanich. Improving housing supply, controlling taxes, growing family supporting jobs, and be done. Working locally reduces family costs. If elected, I will establish a Mayor's Standing Committee to address the full range of affordability issues, especially the missing housing for working families. Pre-zoned locations for new rental housing along transit corridors, support for co-op and assisted housing are needed. Let's require province and federal governments to do their part.

David Shebib

 

Rob Wickson

In order to improve affordability we must seek a vacancy rate that stabilizes rent inflation. A 4.5 percent increase in rents is not sustainable. That means higher densities in places where that is appropriate is Saanich 

Homelessness

Richard Atwell

The federal Housing First program that will apply $90 million of combined funding to deliver 2100 new low-cost housing units in this region will help to address homelessness.

In the short-term, additional modular housing units must be erected near buses routes and services to address homelessness until permanent housing can be erected in the next 3 years.

If elected, United for Saanich will repurpose the vacant Emily Carr Library for modular housing to reduce homelessness in Saanich Parks.

Fred Haynes

As a Director on Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, I know homelessness is driven by mental health, addictions and costs of housing. To be fully addressed it needs sustained action from all levels of government. It is a national issue, but local governments can help. The $90 million fund now available from all three levels will help house those locally homeless. To resolve the recent tent city, Saanich provided land to partner with the Province for modular housing. Once housed, supports become easier for addictions, mental health, and to find routes to employment.

David Shebib


Rob Wickson

Back in 2016, as president of my community association, I along with Dr. Trevor Hancock presented a series of recommendations to Saanich council which could have avoided today's crisis. We suggested with the support of the Healthy Saanich Committee that Saanich hire a social planner and to begin a conversation with all the appropriate partners to address the issues directly.

Taxes

Richard Atwell

Saanich tax rates have far exceeded the rate of inflation each year for the past 12 years. This is in part because each budget has been “rolled-over" and based on the previous year's budgeted cost instead of the actual cost.

Saanich must to move to a modern zero-based budget where all expenses are justified every budget cycle. In addition, departmental budgets need to be approved on a line-item basis through Saanich's finance committee with broad public input and debated in public.

Fred Haynes

Raising residential taxes above the consumer price index every year is not OK. We need to tackle this head on. Council has initiated a process for residents to have a bigger say on budget priorities in the 2019 budget. For example, more sidewalks and less of something else? We need to examine cost efficacies department by department. Saanich can help keep home taxes low by stimulating economic development to build our business tax base in core centers - ie. the Uptown-Douglas, Shelbourne, Glanford. Plus, let's get a bigger slice of BC's $4.6 billion Sports Tourism and Film economy.

David Shebib


Rob Wickson

Saanich gets very good value for their taxes when compared to other municipalities. But that does not mean we can continue to raise taxes faster than inflation. Part of the problem is our revenue sources have not kept up. Attracting new investments to Saanich must be a higher priority.

Candidate's choice

Richard Atwell

If re-elected, I will replace Saanich's closed-door strategic planning process with one that is open, transparent and accountable that also delivers results.

Every neighbourhood should be able to set community priorities that form a portion of the budget that our taxes pay for, whether it be sidewalk improvements, lighting or safety crossings.

If re-elected, I will lead a series of community town hall meetings to determine your priorities for our community and set timelines for completion.

Fred Haynes

Environmental Protection

Rescinding the EDPA was Council's most difficult decision. Council reinstated protections from 2012 and committed to a Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Stewardship Program. Concerns remain that a replacement program may take years and still use inaccurate mapping. If elected, I will create a Mayor's Standing Committee to address these swiftly. It will examine best practices of other jurisdictions, the good ideas in the Diamond Head report, include Saanich parks, use incentives and education for private property and be focused on appropriately sized developments.

David Shebib


Rob Wickson

 

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