Central Saanich Mayor Alastair Bryson vows to keep working for agriculture as he makes the shift from council to leading the district.
“Central Saanich deserves a great deal of credit for protecting farmland from development pressure,” Bryson said in his mayoral speech during the inaugural meeting. “In fact, in the last few years there has been more land included in the Agricultural Land Reserve than has been removed. Yet, even in the face of an increasing demand from the public for local food products our agricultural sector is under significant economic pressure. I intend to raise the awareness of the challenges facing farmers in Central Saanich at both the regional and provincial levels of government.”
Priorities include a residential densification study, a water master plan, possible economic development opportunities at the Tsartlip and Tsawout First Nations, and the new main fire hall, which comes up for final adoption early in the term.
“The district will continue to lobby the Ministry of Transportation on the Keating Interchange Concept,” he said, encouraged by discussion already underway.
“I encourage all members of council to bring forward ideas, such as a process to revitalize the Keating industrial area for council’s consideration during our upcoming strategic planning session in February,.
Councillors sworn in Monday night include returning councillors Terry Siklenka, John Garrison and Adam Olsen, along with previous district council member Zeb King and newcomers Cathie Ounsted and Carl Jensen.
The future of agriculture will continue to be a strong force in the next term for North Saanich council.
“We have had proactive planning and balanced growth, based on the principles and policies of our official community plan,” said Mayor Alice Finall during her inaugural speech. “Future planning decisions need to recognize that one third of North Saanich is in the Agricultural Land Reserve with additional rural land bringing the total available for possible food production to about 40 per cent of our municipality.”
Finall was acclaimed as mayor in October and sworn in alongside her mostly new council Monday night.
The new council includes returning councillors Dunstan Browne and Craig Mearns, alongside newcomers Conny McBride, Celia Stock, former school board member Elsie McMurphy and former North Saanich mayor Ted Daly. The council will conduct a review of municipal bylaws, implementation of improved records management, continuing close associations with local First Nations groups, continued efforts to open communication with residents and the a look at the secondary suites process.
Iroquois Park, a revamped sign bylaw and a pedestrian overpass where Beacon Avenue meets the Pat Bay Highway marked Sidney Mayor Larry Cross’ inaugural speech Monday. Cross said the new council would meet with B.C. Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom in the spring to press for the walkway.
He added council will work on a new vision for Sidney’s downtown, which hasn’t happened in 10 years.
Cross, along with four re-elected councillors and two new members, was sworn in at a ceremony before his speech.