Rebecca Mersereau is more than familiar with the saying ‘third time’s the charm’ as she enters her third campaign in four years for a seat on Saanich council.
Mersereau finished second in the 2017 byelection just 102 votes behind Coun. Karen Harper. In 2014, she finished just 30 votes behind Coun. Leif Wergeland. In short, Mersereau has come very close twice, only to fall short by razor-thin margins.
“I prefer not rely on luck,” she said in interview after announcing her 2018 candidacy. “I find the results quite motivating,” she said.
A utility management consultant, Mersereau enters the race as a presence on local and regional advisory committees, and as a familiar face in Saanich affairs, who nonetheless appears as an outside voice critical of the status quo. A self-described “policy geek,” Mersereau has also called for a less confrontational, more co-operative approach towards governance that promises to restore Saanich’s credibility among the public.
She said in a video announcing her candidacy that she is running to achieve a “more affordable, walkable and complete” community.
“We urgently need more leadership on regional transportation challenges and environmental stewardship to safe neighbourhood character and biodiversity,” she said. “We also need to manage our finances responsibly in a way that safeguards the well-being of future generations.”
She later said that her definition of a complete community is a community that incorporates land-planning decisions with transportation decisions. Next to housing, transportation is often the highest cost people face. A more integrated approach that increases density around transportation modes and amenities could reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and lower the cost-of-the-living by giving people more options to get around, she said.
Millennials, she added, are also less likely to have their own cars. Seniors would also benefit from a transportation system that relies less on private automobiles.
Saanich also stands to benefit both ecologically and economically from protecting its biodiversity. It contributes to the desirable esthetics of Saanich and helps protect the community against the effects of climate change, said Mersereau, who has been critical of Saanich’s decision to eliminate theEnvironmental Development Permit Area bylaw, without first considering recommendations from an independent review funded by Saanich taxpayers.
“It’s a natural landscape unlike any other landscape,” she said.
Mersereau also plans to protect the interests of younger taxpayers in expressing concerns about Saanich’s desire to keep taxes low in the present,thereby deferring future infrastructure costs to younger generations.
Saanich, she said, has done a good job of avoiding the mistakes of other communities who have neglected their infrastructure. Similar to private homeowners, Saanich should continue to set aside revenues to maintain assets, unless it is willing to accept diminished services, or face significantly higher costs in the future.
Mersereau acknowledges that this argument can be read as an argument for higher taxes, but she is unfazed. “I’m willing to take the heat,” she said.