Mayor Richard Atwell sees the 2018 budget, the McKenzie interchange and several large rezoning projects as some of the major issues facing Saanich in 2018. (Saanich News file photo)

Saanich mayor expects at least three new councillors elected in 2018

Richard Atwell will seek re-election in October 2018 municipal elections

Saanich’s Mayor Richard Atwell expects several new faces around the council table after what will likely be a competitive municipal election in October 2018.

“I expect there will be many candidates vying for the eight council positions,” he said in an interview. “Last general election nine incumbents ran, and six were re-elected. I predict that the public will elect at least three new council members in 2018.”

Atwell, who said he would run again in 2018, did not say which of the current councillors he does not expect to return. Nor did he say who would replace them, or who might run against him as mayor. “Who won’t be back is up to the electorate,” he said. “Who might run against me is just hearsay at this point.”

Atwell’s prediction about the municipal election came as he was looking forward to 2018, while looking back on 2017, a year marked by the sudden death of Coun. Vic Derman, and a contested byelection to fill his seat that Coun. Karen Harper eventually won by a narrow margin of 102 votes to serve out the remainder of the term.

But if the composition of the future council remains a mystery, the current one will have to deal with a range of pressing issues.

For Atwell, they include the 2018 budget and efforts to minimize future tax increases , the environmental effects of the McKenzie Interchange Project, and large rezoning projects, such as the Nigel Valley Housing Project on Darwin Avenue, the Cordova Bay Village proposal, and the Trio development, also in the Cordova Bay neighbourhood.

This list of items points to one of the 2017 issues, which Atwell thinks will continue to make headlines in 2018: housing.

And despite council’s repeal of the Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA) bylaw in November by a narrow vote of 5-4, the bylaw will not go away as a subject of conservation and controversy after Saanich resident Lynn Husted filed a legal challenge against the repeal.

“A public hearing on the repeal of the bylaw will take place in January, and I expect the petition filed by Lynn Husted to be concluded by the courts within six months,” said Atwell.

In short, the EDPA issue will not disappear any time soon, with the potential to impact the election.

But if the state of local housing and the EDPA are familiar topics among Saanich residents, Atwell also expects that they will start seeing the regional sewage project impact their lives, starting with their utility bills.

“Escalating sewage treatment costs, and construction activity will become more noticeable to residents as the Hartland facility and 18km pipeline construction ramps up over the next three years,” said Atwell, a long-time critic of the project.

As for greatest accomplishments in 2017, Atwell points to an independent, citizens-led governance review that wrapped up last month. Despite some initial reservations from the members of the public, it yielded a series of recommendations that could pave the path towards greater service integration in areas such as policing, if not outright amalgamation among the communities of the Greater Victoria region.

As for the biggest mistake of 2017, Atwell points to the handling of the new contract for Saanich’s top cop.

The public heard last September that Saanich paid Chief Constable Bob Downie $378,791 following his retirement on July 31, only to rehire him as a contractor for two years (plus an option year), with an annual salary of about $222,711 plus benefits, vacation, leaves of absence and expense reimbursements.

The figure of $378,790 includes Downie’s retirement allowance of $126,781 for his 35 years of service and $252,010 in unused banked hours.

News of this arrangement caused a public outcry and its handling has sparked a perhaps unprecedented public row between Atwell and the other members of council, who questioned both the substance of the contract and its announcement in a letter out sent last week through Saanich’s public relations department.

“Clearly, as a member of the police board we should have anticipated the interest in the chief’s contract and prepared more background material to make it clear that the contract was cost neutral,” said Atwell, a consistent defender of the deal.

 

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

Just Posted

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: Study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

Saanich Police ask for help locating missing high-risk youth

Robyn Coker-Steel has not been in contact with anyone from her home since Dec. 27

Victoria’s reconciliation dialogue on newcomers, Indigenous peoples takes place Monday

The third of six discussions on reconciliation will take place at the Crystal Garden

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Power lines cut as thieves strike Vancouver Island veterinary hospital

‘Thankfully there weren’t any animals or staff in the clinic when this happened’

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

Surrey’s ‘Pink Palace’ being used for Stephen King horror shoot

New web series based on King’s The Stand novel

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to refund B.C. buyer over puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Most Read