Nine Saanich residents have been selected to join a new Resilient Saanich Technical Committee which will consult on the development of a framework to protect the municipality’s environmentally sensitive areas.
In early July, the District of Saanich invited nature lovers, environment experts and climate specialists to apply to the technical committee which would help the municipality develop a new environmental policy framework, biodiversity conservation strategy and stewardship program.
On July 20, council appointed Kevin Brown, Claudia Copley, Tim Ennis, Purnima Govindarajulu, Stewart Guy, Jeremy Gye, Tory Stevens, Brian Wilkes and Bev Windjack to the committee. The group will be joined by a First Nations representative who has yet to be chosen.
The committee’s first meeting will take place in August, said Mayor Fred Haynes. At that time, the group will vote amongst themselves to appoint a committee chair before beginning work on the first and second milestones laid out in the Resilient Saanich terms of reference.
The terms of reference outline the specific goals for the project’s three milestones – which include developing an environmental policy framework, assessing existing environmental policies and looking at options for moving forward, explained Coun. Rebecca Mersereau, the committee’s council liaison.
About 20 applications were submitted and council was “amazed by the expertise” of those who applied and “thrilled” with who was chosen, she said.
The committee will be tasked with taking stock of Saanich’s existing policies, establishing the project’s scope and look for places to improve, Merseareau explained, adding that each of the project’s three milestones will have opportunities for public engagement.
Once the committee has finished consulting on the first two milestones, council will undertake a review of the committee to ensure members with the right expertise are selected to tackle milestone three, Mersereau explained, noting that this may include appointing additional people to the committee.
She noted that the First Nations representative position on the committee remains open as none of the applicants indicated that they’d be suited for that role.
Interested residents who identify as First Nations are invited to apply as “council really values that perspective,” she said.
According to the District, the Resilient Saanich project will conclude with a report expected to come to council in the fall of 2022.