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Geoff Orr says he won't run for mayor again in North Saanich

North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr said Tuesday he won’t run for re-election this fall. Orr, who served a four-year term as councillor before winning the mayor’s seat in 2018, said he made the decision after considerable thought.
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North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr at his home in 2018. Orr says he won’t run again, saying recent conflict in the community, which has been grappling with a controversial review of its Official Community Plan, has been difficult. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr said Tuesday he won’t run for re-election this fall.

Orr, who served a four-year term as councillor before winning the mayor’s seat in 2018, said he made the decision after considerable thought.

“I recognize that my decision may be disappointing for some and I acknowledge and appreciate their support and encouragement during my time both as mayor and as a councillor; however, this feels like the right decision at this point in my life,” Orr said in a statement.

Orr said he found the role of mayor rewarding, but there were challenges. “I am by nature a gentle soul who believes in practising empathy and compassion,” he said. “I must confess that the cumulative impact of recent conflict generated by various community issues has been hard on many — myself included.”

For months, North Saanich has been grappling with a controversial review of its Official Community Plan, which has generated hot debate in the largely rural community about the prospect of development, pitting those in favour of new options against those adamantly opposed. At one point, council mulled scrapping the whole process.

A resident of North Saanich since 2002, Orr was active in the community before taking a seat a council, serving as president of the North Saanich Residents Association for eight years and chair of the Saanich Peninsula Water and Wastewater Commissions for six years. He was also a Peninsula Minor Hockey Association coach and executive member, and on the CRD Water Advisory Committee.

“I have been privileged to share the council table with six community minded Councillors that have worked tirelessly on your behalf,” Orr said in his statement. “In the same vein, I have had the pleasure of being at the municipal hall with all of the dedicated employees working hard on behalf of residents and I would like to acknowledge their tremendous contribution, especially during the challenges of COVID-19 the past two years.”

The civic elections will be held Oct. 15.

Orr said he looks forward to transitioning into a new phase in his life.

dkloster@timescolonist.com