Peter Miller has lived for 10 years in North Saanich and chose to live in the community for its ambiance.
It’s that feeling of community Miller says he feels is under threat by the actions of the current council and that’s why he’s running for mayor on Nov. 15.
“I think the people of North Saanich are fed up with the leadership of the council of the day,” he said.
Miller said the animosity between councillors and bad behaviour seen over the course of the last term has a lot to do with leadership.
“If performed properly, that seeps down to the other councillors and to staff. Things did get done this last term but at a very slow pace. Better leadership starts at the top.”
Miller considers much of council’s actions in regards to its animosity towards each other this term as questionable and something he hopes to change. The kicker for him, he continued, was the spending of tax dollars on mediation to help council function better. He said that didn’t work.
“It has been my experience that public feedback on this has been of frustration, especially in the reputation North Saanich has gotten as a result.”
Miller admitted he has no previous political experience but says he has the leadership skills to bring to the job. Miller spent 33 years at the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch, as both a liquor store manager and as a special projects manager across the province.
Miller said to bring council into a better working relationship, it all starts with the mayor. He said he’s approaching the job with an open mind and no particular agenda. Yet, he said he will not tolerate bad behaviour and try to raise his and the public’s expectations of council. In the end, he hopes such action will bring about efficiencies in how council operates.
While Miller said he doesn’t think North Saanich has serious issues, he agrees housing policy has been top of mind in the community. Miller added he feels council has been on the right track on housing development, but at too fast a pace.
“If North Saanich had made land rezonings on a slower pace over the last 10 years, people probably would not be as up in arms as they have been.”
Miller said the pro-development council majority pushed through some long-standing housing projects, “if you can call three years being pushed through.”
Miller said he thinks there needs to be more diversity in housing in North Saanich and a review of the official community plan is needed “to iron out a lot of things.” He is not calling for a full OCP review, but a look at zoning and housing issues.
Miller added he thinks there is no such thing as affordable housing when it comes specifically to market housing. He said more and more people are looking for smaller lots and smaller homes as they maintain busy lives. Subsidized housing is another matter, he said, and suggested council might look at Habitat for Humanity projects to fill that need.
On the issue of amalgamation, Miller said he agrees the community needs to have a discussion.
“Regardless of your thoughts on it, if you can collect simple information on it, now is the time to do it.”
He said asking a ballot question on Nov. 15 is a good thing and, depending on the outcome, would set in motion information-gathering in case the community wants to proceed further.
“I can’t say this is ever going to happen,” said Miller, “but I believe it’ll be a real stretch in North Saanich.”