Karen Harper to be sworn in as new councillor Monday

Karen Harper won’t have much time to reflect after she becomes Saanich’s newest council members.

She will take the oath of office, then take her seat next to the left of Mayor Richard Atwell, the seat assigned to the most junior councillor, as council meets to consider an agenda that includes a presentation from the board overseeing the region’s controversial sewage treatment project.

Twenty-four hours later, council will reconvene to receive public input into the controversial Doumac development.

Both evenings promise to be long and contentious, and the question arises: does Harper have any regrets about her choice? “No,” she says, with a laugh. “I have a good sense of what it’s like.”

Harper won last month won the byelection to fill the seat left vacant since the death of Vic Derman by 102 votes ahead of Rebecca Mersereau on a platform that calls for greater financial accountability, reworked local area plans, and abolishing the controversial Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA).

A teacher by academic training, Harper joins council with a professional background in financial management. She has served as treasurer for the Camosun Community Association, and as a director of Amalgamation Yes, a self-described non-partisan, non-profit organization that promotes more effective and accountable government by reforming regional governance. This background has made Harper a familiar figure at council meetings. By her own accounts, Harper has attended three-quarters of council meetings since 2015 as an observer, and all but one meeting about the bylaw, which she would like to see abolished.

Harper, in other words, will have a working knowledge of the issues will confront her. This said, it is one thing to watch council from the audience, another to join the body responsible for a municipality of more than 110,000 individuals. Accordingly, Harper will have received several briefings from District staff, before she takes her seat.

Harper sounds realistically about what she is able to achieve, noting that she is just one voice on council. This said, Harper also sounds deeply committed, when she promises to work with all councillors on issues.

“I have positions, but you can’t realize them, unless you get support,” she says.

Harper joins council against the looming backdrop of next year’s general municipal election and tensions between Mayor Richard Atwell and the rest of council over the new contract for Chief Constable Robert Downie, Saanich’s top cop.

Harper says her focus will be on policy, not personalities.

“We are there to do the business of Saanich on behalf of Saanich and that’s what I’m going to focus on,” she said.

Just Posted

Greater Victoria School District adopts new dress code policy

Two years in the making, SD61 moves to more inclusionary guidelines

Legal action against B.C. specualtion tax a last resort

Group of Arizona home owners feel they’ve been swept up in an attack on land speculators

Rock the Rink gives youth once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

Winning band will get to play a set at Rock the Shores

Sooke makes call for regional fire dispatch

Some municipalities decide to take service off-Island

Victoria beaches 1,560 pounds lighter after Surfrider cleanup

200 people came out to clean the beach on Earth Day

Parents call for change to health laws after Oak Bay teen’s death

Accidental overdose has Elliot Eurchuk’s parents seeking change to B.C Infants Act

EDITORIAL: Greater Victoria amalgamation no magic bullet

Taxpaying citizens need to ask tough questions of both sides in debate

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of April 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Inquest set 10 years after B.C. woman shot, left to die

Lisa Dudley, and her partner, Guthrie McKay were shot in their Mission home in September 2008

B.C. hockey team to retire Humboldt Bronco victim’s number

BCHL’s Surrey Eagles to retire Jaxon Joseph’s No. 10 in light of bus tragedy

B.C. Hells Angels invited to rally by anti-SOGI organizer

The Culture Guard group has helped Hells Angels in the past, said its executive director.

Most Read