It’s an election year in municipal politics and community leaders will do one of two things: assert themselves on issues of importance to our communities, or hunker down and ride their records to the polls.
The official election period doesn’t really start until after Labour Day but already folks are pondering whether they want to run for office for the first time or run again in November. And there is no shortage of issues on the Saanich Peninsula. Those include affordable housing and agriculture, to the economy and cost of living. These are the main umbrella issues in the community. How local politicians address them leading up to November will set the stage for the next four years.
For Sidney, the well-being of its downtown business area has become a main focal point as new commercial developments loom on the outskirts of town. Business owners are going to want to know what the Town plans to do to help as groups like the Sidney Business Improvement Association and Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce team up to try to improve their lot.
Recent presentations by retail consultant Richard Talbot have raised serious concerns about the impact of these developments on downtown Sidney and he is calling on the mayor’s office to act — to bring about a more competitive Sidney. Unfortunately, Mayor Larry Cross has focused on Talbot’s poor attempt at humour [his comments that body parts be used to stop any construction at the big commercial sites], rather than on his message, and has lobbed the ball back into the hands of business.
Cross has been clear — business owners must take the initiative and the Town has helped pave the way for increased investment through policy.However, anything the business community comes up with to see a change will eventually find its way to the council chamber for approval. It only makes sense for the Town to be on board at the beginning — and knowing how Cross and this council have pushed for a more cohesive representation of local businesses, they will be involved in one form or another.
This issue has legs in Sidney and will find its way into the election campaign debates. Talbot is, in all likelihood, correct to say that whoever can pick up this ball will score big come November.