North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr says one of the priorities for 2020 is to recognize the role of small and medium-sized businesses in the community.
“We have marine, we have construction, we have technology, and historically, North Saanich has kind of taken that for granted to a degree,” he said. “But that is something that we do need to continue to emphasize and recognize.”
Within this context, Orr said that he plans to meet with local marina operators in 2020 as part of a mayor’s roundtable.
“The other thing we did which relates to industry is that we are now looking at sewer servicing for the light industrial properties along Mills Road and McDonald Park Road,” he added later. “That will allow us to bolster some of the opportunities for businesses in there.”
Orr made those comments in a year-end-interview with the Peninsula News Review. Orr also said the District will look to recognize contributions of volunteers in singling out the Friends of North Saanich Parks and the Greater Victoria Green Team. “They have just done amazing work in the past year and prior to and will continue,” he said. “That is really something we have to recognize and acknowledge as we go forward.”
Within this context, Orr stressed the importance of community building at locations like the McTavish Academy of Art, the Fickle Fig, the Deep Cove Winery or the Roost Vineyard Bistro. “Those are things that are going to be really important,” he said.
North Saanich is also proud of its involvement in various arts organizations such as the ArtSea Community Arts Council, he said.
Looking at various planning and infrastructure projects, Orr said 2020 will see the District review its strategic plan, as well as its Official Community Plan. Orr predicts that the OCP review will take about two years. “We have talked with Sidney and Central Saanich about that, so we will be having some dialogue as best as we can as the Peninsula municipalities,” he said, adding that North Saanich will also review its park master plan, ecological asset management plan, stormwater master plan and tree bylaw.
Orr said North Saanich will also continue work on policies designed to protect waterfront properties, as well as sensitive environmental areas and ecosystems in face of climate change.
“If you recall, we have done a lot of flood construction level work,” he said. “We are a bit ahead of the curve with respect to the region in that. The Capital Regional District is now doing a study for the region, so we will have some other data to bounce off against our data. Planning then will be bringing that back to us fairly soon here about where we want to go in 2020 in terms of policy language [and] bylaw language. We will sure have to bring Sidney and Central Saanich back into that conversation.”
Looking at the broader file of climate change, Orr said he cannot say where it will fit into the immediate priorities for 2020 after the District declared a climate emergency in 2019.
“A lot of the time, when we get into the policy side, it is incremental development that has to be addressed, rather than the whole [subject] area all at once,” he said. “I think it is going to be important when we exit 2020. What I would like to see us have is some sense of our direction for policy with a good understanding where Sidney, Central Saanich and the First Nations [communities] are going.”
Down the line, that discussion would also eventually involve the regional district, as well as the provincial and federal governments, he said.
“That is my sense,” said Orr. “There will be more activity [in 2020], but it won’t be the only thing,” he said.