Councillor blasts Saanich’s budget approach

Coun. Karen Harper criticized Saanich’s budget process as the council read various financial bylaws Monday.

“The approach that we have taken is not one that I would have chosen, if I had been on council at the time,” she said. “And I want to be very clear — staff have followed the direction that they have been given.”

Saanich’s budget calls for a property tax hike of 3.07 per cent, more than one per cent lower than the figure of 4.17 per cent.

“We did end up with an improved number, partly because of the decisions that council made, which is great, but also partially because of luck, if I were to put it bluntly, because we did have additional funds that were identified late in the process,” she said.

While council made progress, it could have done better, she said, pointing towards inflation figures. Living costs rose 1.9 per cent between March 2017 and March 2018, while Saanich’s proposed tax increase represents a figure 50 per cent over inflation.

“So the long and the short of it is that I will not vote for this, nor will I vote against this,” she said. “I appreciate that that means in a practical sense I’m voting for it, but I can’t actually bring myself to vote for a lift of 3.07 per cent, although it will show I did in the minutes.”

——-

Coun. Fred Haynes tabled two notices of motion Monday.

The first asks staff to report back on options and potential impacts to “assist and stimulate” an increase in the supply and affordability of rental housing.

Proposed incentives include among other options density bonuses, tax breaks and subsidies, utilization of the provision from the provincial government for “incentive” zoning and, and possibly including pre-zoned areas in the vicinity of Saanich’s two post-secondary institutions.

Haynes’ second motion asks staff to send letters to federal officials including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, requesting that Ottawa improve both the processing time and numbers of both private and government-sponsored refugees.

——

Saanich will contribute $150,000 towards an affordable housing project currently under construction at 1550 Arrow Road. The project run by the Mount Douglas Seniors Housing Society (MDSHS) calls for 84 affordable housing units for seniors. As of March 1, Saanich’s housing had a balance of $460,000, so Saanich commits one third of the entire fund to one project.

Launched in 2007, the fund has so far supported three projects: the Pacific Housing Project ($23,231), the Cottage Grove project on Quadra Avenue ($112,000) and Rosalie’s Village ($172,000).

Council considers contributions on their individual merit rather than a specific policy.

——

Violations of new Saanich’s blasting bylaw could leave a sizable hole in the pockets of violators.

Blasting without a permit, outside permitted hours, contrary to permit and failure to notify within 100 metres of blast sites will trigger a fine of $1,000. Saanich had considered a earlier version of the bylaw two weeks, but input from the public prompted staff to up the fines and include failure to notify as a violation category.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The iconic and well-loved live music venue Logan’s is permanently closing its doors due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Google Maps)
Fernwood pub Logan’s permanently closing its doors

Live music venue unable to weather COVID-19 storm

The Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. closed permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks closes despite petition signed by nearly 250 residents

Closure part of transition to more drive-thru locations, Starbucks spokesperson says

Shawn Magnus of Sidney Courier has partnered with Sidney Business Improvement Area Society for free commercial delivery for society members. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney business association partners with courier for free commercial delivery

Service started Oct. 26 and extends to a radius of 35 kilometres

Victoria police are searching for a suspect after a stabbing Monday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police searching for suspect in late-night stabbing

Victim taken to hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries

Struggling to afford rent, Sylvia Bailey is hoping to trade her love of cooking for some more affordable accommodation. (Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bailey)
Retired Victoria woman looking to cook, clean or garden in exchange for rent

Sylvia Bailey is hoping to use her love for cooking to help afford rent

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

Most Read