Central Saanich candidates speak their mind

Councillor and mayoral candidates respond to a News Review questionnaire

Ryan Windsor

Age: 31

Occupation: Director of marketing at De Vine Vineyards in Central Saanich

Family status: Married with one child

Political experience: New candidate

How long have you lived   in the municipality? Two years, three months.

What do you feel is the  single biggest issue in this election? Fiscal responsibility

How do you hope to solve it? My plan is to prioritize and manage spending on necessary projects. It is important that we carefully scrutinize projects for unnecessary components.

What do you think council has done well this term? The integrated storm water management plan being started was a positive step.

What would do you do on council to improve it? There is a need to continue to implement the plan now that it has been adopted. Some areas may need to be added.

 

Cathie Ounsted

Age: 48

Occupation: Accountant

Family status: Married with two children

Political experience: No publicly elected experience

How long have you lived in the municipality? I have lived 17 years in Central Saanich.

What do you feel is the  single biggest issue in this election? Fiscal responsibility.  Council must be accountable to the taxpayers in their financial decisions.  Our municipal infrastructure needs improvement and past councils have not budgeted for this capital expense.

How do you hope to solve it? By reviewing the budget of capital projects and ensuring they are reasonable.  We must be prudent in their costing and how they are being funded and if the timing is appropriate.

What do you think council has done well this term? The current council has been responsible for the implementation  of much needed improvement to municipal infrastructure. They have also been successful in obtaining significant government grants, which has substantially reduced the cost of completed projects.

What would do you do on council to improve it? I would improve the transparency of council by voting to record all council votes.  I would also support the continued improvement of infrastructure while  being diligent in the costing of projects, and  seeking government grants where available.  I would work to repair the reputation of Central Saanich as a community open for business.

 

Carl Jensen

Age: 39

Occupation: Supervisor, forest revenue operations

Family status: Married with three children in school

Political experience: No elected experience

How long have you lived  in the municipality? 12 years

What do you feel is the single biggest issue in this election? The revitalization of the Keating business park to ensure it remains a strong tax  source for the district.

How do you hope to solve it? By working with business and residents to create a business development plan with a champion on council. I could be that champion, as I’m passionate about this topic and ensuring it succeeds.

What do you think council has  done well this term? Made progress on a number of projects that were delayed for far too long, such as East Saanich Road and the waterline on Senanus Drive.

To improve council I would: Look to build partnerships with groups to strengthen the communication between council and the chamber of commerce, First Nations, Saanichton Village Assoc., Brentwood Revitalization Committee, etc.

 

Terry Siklenka

Age: 51

Occupation: General manager, Cairnview Mechanical Ltd.

Family status: Married

Political experience: One term on Central Saanich council (elected 2008).

How long have you lived in the municipality? Since fall 2007.

What do you feel is the single biggest issue in this election? The 2012 budget in relation to the community life safety issues regarding the new Central Saanich fire hall.

How do you hope to solve it? The current council has done all the groundwork for the construction and financial needs for the next council to complete and implement this very important project.

What do you think council has done well this term? Getting things done in a proper, quick, efficient manner. Setting up proper stewardship for the future while balancing community needs in relation to new and maintained infrastructure, infill housing, environment, farmland support, First Nations co-operation and an open-for-business attitude.

What would do you do on council to improve it? Continue to lead and support residents, farmers, First Nations and businesses to take advantage of every opportunity that exists in these times to become a success. Their success is our success.

 

Susan Mason

Age: not provided

Occupation: Interior designer/project manager

Family status: Single mother of one

Political experience: Nine years on Central Saanich council

How long have you lived in the municipality? More than 20 years.

What do you feel is the single biggest issue in this election? Given today’s revenue and infrastructure challenges, the number one issue has to be the district’s financial sustainability, the need to increase our tax base and maintain service levels while sustaining balance between growth and no growth as set out in our official community plan.

How do you hope to solve it? We need to increase our tax base by taking a proactive, promotional approach to attract business, industry and tourism. To do this we need to develop an economic development plan in conjunction with our neighbours and the chamber of commerce.

What do you think council has done well this term? We need to plan for the future. Realistic planning is the key to good decision-making, resulting in action. Much-needed planning for a new fire hall, completing our first-ever agricultural area plan, as well as starting the process on a water master plan were good initiatives implemented this term.

What would do you do on council to improve it? I would like to see us record negative votes and would support better tools for communication with the public.

 

John B. Garrison

Age: 64

Occupation: Retired lawyer with a great retirement job at Slegg Lumber.

Family status: Married

Political experience: Served 15 years on Saanich council, nine years as CRD director and six years on Central Saanich council.

How long have you lived in the municipality. If you don’t live here, why are you running in this municipality? I lived in Central Saanich prior to remarrying. I continue to work on the Peninsula and am in the community six to seven days a week. We would love to return here on my wife’s retirement in two to three years. I care about the community and wish to help complete those important infrastructure projects like the proposed new firehall.

What do you feel is the single biggest issue in this election? Financial sustainability, in light of the major infrastructure projects undertaken or proposed. This has evolved to the issue of borrowing by the municipality, doing nothing or increasing taxes to unacceptable levels.

How do you hope to solve it? Council has to look at the required infrastructure needs, prioritize them and look at all funding sources including grants/cost sharing with senior governments. The East Saanich Road renewal project was on the books for over 25 years and council was able to complete it with two-thirds of the costs shared by the federal and provincial governments.

What do you think council has done well this term? Council accomplished significant projects, including the integrated storm water management plan, agricultural area plan, lobbying for removal of derelict vessels, Soil Deposit Bylaw amendments to regulate fill on Agricultural Land Reserve land, facilities planning with the proposed new fire hall  being tendered along with many other important initiatives.

What would you do on council to improve it? I believe the new council should continue to work respectfully together, recognizing that all of us are working to improve Central Saanich, even if we disagree.

 

Sue Stroud

Age: 55

Occupation: Administrative support clerk, B.C. Housing

Family status: Single

Political experience: No publicly elected experience

How long have you lived in the municipality? Since 1970 on Tanner Ridge, in Saanichton and in Brentwood Bay.

What do you feel is the single biggest issue in this election? Lack of fiscal responsibility. We don’t need the most high-end tennis courts, all the bells and whistles on every project. Lack of prudence, failure to value thrift seems to rule right now.

How do you hope to solve it? We need to refill our reserves, build modestly, go back to “pay-as-you-go” as much as we can, recognize federal and provincial grants come from the same taxpayers as municipal taxes, ratepayers paying more overall these days, tennis players should have raised the money themselves as badminton players did years ago.

What do you think council has done well this term? Integrated storm water management plan and cleaning up the boats in Saanich Inlet.

What would you do on council to improve it? Welcome citizens into deliberations in every way. Videotaping council, making searches online easier, recording the votes, being respectful, doing more than the minimum requirements to advise citizens of public hearings, etc. Many say this, I have done it, I have been publicizing meetings to Central Saanich citizens for years.

 

Liam Cooper

Age: 30

Occupation: New parent and final-year law student.

Family status: I live with my partner, Marnie, and our new son Keith.

Political experience: No publicly elected experience

How long have you lived in the municipality? Earlier this year, Marnie and I were finally able to afford a down payment on our townhouse in Saanichton.  We are now able to fulfill our dream of raising a family in Central Saanich.

What do you feel is the single biggest issue in this election? We need councillors who can work harmoniously together, in order to seriously address the challenges ahead.  These include 1) finding a way to prune debt while holding the line on taxes, 2) revitalizing Keating X Road while not leaving Brentwood and Saanichton behind, 3) increasing volunteerism, and 4) restoring transparency.

How do you hope to solve it? I will draw on my experience to help build a more co-operative, consensual council.

What do you think council has done well this term? I believe the disputatious nature of our current council has led to some serious errors in judgment. However, I do believe the decision to relocate and modernize our fire hall will increase the safety of businesses and residents of Central Saanich. Hopefully, it will help lower insurance costs as well.

What would you do on council to improve it? (no answer)

 

James McNulty

Age: 24

Occupation: Owner/operator Five Star Paving Co. Ltd., Island View Golf Centre.

Family status: In a relationship

Political experience: No publicly elected experience

How long have you lived in the municipality? My family has lived and worked in Central Saanich for over 20 years.

What do you feel is the single biggest issue in this election? At the moment it seems there is a breakdown in communication between members of the public and council, and that decisions have been made that are contrary to the desires of the public. I will bridge that gap between the community and the council.

How do you hope to solve it? I will work tirelessly to make sure that all lines of communication are open and that the dialogue between council and the public remains robust. Reinstating recording keeping of which councillor voted for what will be my first priority.

What do you think council has done well this term? Secured federal and provincial funding for important public projects.

What would you do on council to improve it? It’s crucial that the council of Central Saanich is effective in delivering information to the citizens of this fine community. As a councillor, I will ensure that the lines of communication remain open so that we can have the conversations necessary to understand and resolve the complex issues faced by our community.

 

Robert (Bob) Thompson

Age: 60

Occupation: Agri-food consultant

Family status: I live with my partner of 24 years, Heather Biasio, in Saanichton.

Political experience: Councillor, District of Central Saanich, 1993-96, 2002-08

How long have you lived in the municipality? 20 years.

What do you feel is the single biggest issue in this election? Long-term financial sustainability and infrastructure upgrades. How do we accomplish this without significant tax increases? Is it possible? Pay as you go (if you actually do “go”) or borrowing both mean raising revenues, principally by taxation. Increasing our tax base in the Keating industrial area is critical.

How do you hope to solve it? I’d support a meaningful public discussion on long-term financial planning that considers major infrastructure upgrades and sets priorities, plus a realistic review of how we’re going to pay for our future. Do residents — and businesses — want to “pay as you go” and start saving now (i.e, a hefty tax increase)?

What do you think council has done well this term? Whether or not you agree with the decisions, council took on some long-standing controversial issues and put them to bed (sort of) — East Saanich Road upgrade, firehall, Mount Newton waterline, Peninsula Co-op. In the words of Humphrey Appleby (Yes Minister), they may prove to be courageous decisions.

What would you do on council to improve it? Improve communication. I’d like to see more informative debate at the council meetings and webcasts of meetings. Upgrade the website to make it more user-friendly. Contract out a part-time communications consultant – create a communications plan, do social media, update the website, produce media releases.

 

Adam Olsen

Age: 35

Occupation: First Nations housing consultant

Family status: Married, father

Political experience: One term on Central Saanich council, 2008 to present.

How long have you lived in the municipality? 35 years

What do you feel is the  single biggest issue in this election? Managing community finances. Municipalities face incredible pressure, federal and provincial programs have been cut, fewer grants are available for major projects and more responsibility has been downloaded, with no money to pay for the added workload.

How do you hope to solve it? We must make prudent decisions while lobbying senior governments for change. Spending public money has to be done responsibly and to achieve this flexibility is critical. We must show restraint, pay as we go for what we can, save as we go and borrow only when necessary.

What do you think council has  done well this term? A lot. For example, council implemented an integrated stormwater management plan, completed major upgrades to East Saanich Road, took action on long-standing issues in the Saanich Inlet, were strong advocates at the CRD for action on agricultural issues, adopted a Pesticide Control Bylaw and developed a First Nations emergency plan.

What would you do on  council to improve it? I will continue to work to improve communications. There are tools that I use daily, that are available to the District to engage residents, inform them of successes and challenges, consult with them and involve a wider range of stakeholders. Communication tools are rapidly evolving; everyone benefits if we embrace them.

 

Zeb King

Age: 36

Occupation: Senior policy analyst, Ministry of Health

Family status: Married

Political experience: Elected to Central Saanich council in 2002 and in 2005.

How long have you lived in the municipality? A third-generation Central Saanich resident, I have lived here since I was 12 years old, attending Mt. Newton, Royal Oak and Claremont schools before going on to the University of Victoria. My wife and I recently bought our first home, in Brentwood.

What do you feel is the single biggest issue in this election? Residents I speak to identify the deteriorating Keating business area as a key issue. Residents are concerned that businesses continue to leave. Vacant shop fronts and building sites also signal a dwindling business tax base.

How do you hope to solve it? I have experience with the Brentwood Revitalization Plan and now we need a Keating revitalization plan. This would be a plan that brings businesses and residents to the table so balanced and resilient strategies are created. I’ve always said that the wisdom is within the community and the council just needs to listen and then implement the ideas.

What do you think council has done well this term? Council has done a good job of cleaning up derelict boats in Brentwood Bay and creating a soil deposit bylaw to prevent continued dumping.

What would you do on council to improve it? Regarding the clean-up of Brentwood Bay, it’s a good start but the work isn’t done. If more levels of government are involved, perhaps we can get more done with reduced burden on the municipality.

 

Wayne Spencer

Age: 41

Occupation: Accountant

Family status: Married

Political experience: This is my first political experience.

How long have you lived in the municipality? I have lived here for three years.

What do you feel is the single biggest issue in this election? Trust.

How do you hope to solve it? I believe in open and transparent government and will strive to not only have my votes recorded, but will be open to everyone in the district. There is no reason to hide behind anonymity if you are on the people’s side and have the best interest of the district with every decision.

What do you think council has done well this term? This term council has done a very good job at updating some needed infrastructure.

What would you do on council to improve it? Our aging roads need to have a plan for maintaining them. The municipality is living off the past taxpayers and putting off payment of replacing infrastructure to future generations.

 

Alastair Bryson (mayoral candidate)

Age: 52

Occupation: Veterinarian and farmer

Family status: Married with two teenage children.

Political experience: Two term councillor for District of Central Saanich (since 2005)

How long have you lived in the municipality? Since 1989, 22 years

What do you feel is the single biggest issue in this election? The long term financial sustainability of the District.

How do you hope to solve it? Careful management of the District’s finances, paying particular attention to operating and infrastructure renewal costs.  Restoration of the District’s previous pay-as-you-go approach to project financing where possible. Identifying opportunities to increase the tax base of the District, within the context of the current Official Community Plan, in order to minimize the need for tax rate increases.

What do you think council has done well this term? Council has completed a significant project in upgrading East Saanich Road, and has completed the initial planning for the proposed District’s new main fire hall. Council has worked well together as a team.

What would do you do on council to improve it? I will continue to work together with all members of the council to ensure that Central Saanich remains a safe, healthy place, to live and work.

 

Christopher Graham (mayoral candidate)

Age: 33

Occupation: Small business owner and farmer

Family status: Common-law

Political experience: I served 12 consecutive years on council, held almost all council appointed posts and was council’s alternate director on the CRD for six years.

How long have you lived in the municipality? I was born here and have lived here my entire life.  My family’s connection to the area goes back to the 1800’s and it is an important part of why I feel so connected to this community and want to keep it a great place to live.

What do you feel is the single biggest issue in this election? Keating needs attention. Brian Butler has been looking for tenants for the Home hardware plaza for 2.5 years, Co-op is planning to move to Tsartlip and it is the anchor store in its plaza. We need a vibrant Keating for the tax base and to service the Keating neighborhood.

How do you hope to solve it? Enhancing traffic safety by working with the province to create safer access off the highway, promote redevelopment with residential over business where appropriate, creating affordable housing that will enhance economic activity in Keating by bringing in workers and customers, more business-friendly bylaws, faster approvals and a fairer tax system.

What do you think council has  done well this term? Worked through the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities with Transport Canada to help clean up Brentwood Bay and remove some of the derelict vessels, and brought in a soil deposit bylaw to help protect farm land from becoming a dumping site.

What would do you do on  council to improve it? Reinstate the recording of votes and the movers and seconders of motions, so that everyone on council will be accountable by being a part of a public record.  Ensure the public is listened to, and that everyone is treated fairly, and put councillors in positions that maximize their strengths.

editor@peninsulanewsreview.com

 

 

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