It has always been my belief that democracy is rooted at the local level and last Saturday’s municipal election in North Saanich supports that belief.
For three years, I have watched a municipal council irrevocably change the face and character of North Saanich. I have watched meeting after meeting in which the agenda of Team North Saanich along with that of their close ally, Councillor Ted Daly, push through spot zoning changes and discount, ridicule and even silence the opinions of those opposed to their agenda. I watched this group run roughshod over the Official Community Plan against the protests of hundreds of North Saanich residents.
It is interesting to note that in the 2011 North Saanich municipal election, only 41.2 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots.
In looking at the 2014 results, 4,812 (just over 53 per cent of eligible voters) ballots were cast and of the nine individuals running for council, the incumbent Team North Saanich council members placed 7th, 8th and 9th and the spread between the first and last place finishers, Geoff Orr and TNS member Dunstan Browne respectively, was 1,839 votes. By any standard, this was a drubbing and total rejection of the TNS agenda and may have also been a statement on their conduct during the course of their tenure.
Only one member of Team North Saanich was elected, I suggest, through default as there were only five independent candidates in the running.
If Councillor Daly still believes that the objections of so many to the slate that he and TNS so avidly supported and presented to the CRD were simply the voices of a “vocal minority,” he review Saturday’s results.
Those objections, which he discounted before the CRD, were in fact the voices of a very vocal majority and the recent election results clearly supports that observation. Like many, we can hope our faith in the democratic process is restored over the next four years.
I am certain that this incoming council will listen and will not walk out of council meetings in mass to thwart business nor will it pass motions to silence those with opposing views. Further, I believe it will treat all constituents with the respect they expect and deserve.
I think I now have a rational basis for optimism that democracy my yet thrive in North Saanich.
James P. Crowley, North Saanich