Tri-municipal meeting tackles arts funding, business, housing

Saanich Peninsula councils discussed regional issues

The three municipal councils on the Saanich Peninsula met Tuesday night to discuss regional issues affecting the area.

Here’s a wrap up of what happened:

Workforce housing

Robin Richardson, vice-president of operations for Scott Plastics, located west of the Pat Bay Highway, presented results of an informal survey of 14 of the biggest employers in the airport area.

“For us, time is of the essence,” he said, referring to the employers. Without municipalities’ help in allowing zoning that could lead to attainable housing, these businesses may not survive.

Central Saanich Coun. Cathie Ounsted said she’s struggled with a vocal minority that wants no new residents or density in that community.

“Take the moral high road and you go where you need to go,” Richardson responded to applause from those in attendance.

Coun. Steve Price of Sidney said councils need to “get our acts together. If we don’t, all those 14 companies will die. We can’t just be a seniors destination.”

Island View interchange

Alastair Bryson, mayor of Central Saanich, said meetings in late May with Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom gave assurances there are “no plans to change the Island View intersection for the foreseeable future.” With large-scale development planned on Tsawout land, talk of changing the intersection heated up and earned opposition from some residents and farmers.

Regional arts

A small group of councillors from the three municipalities could be formed to discuss the region’s role in funding the arts.

Coun. Marilyn Loveless said Sidney’s $5,000 investment in Capital Regional District Arts Development turned into $17,000 in grants for Peninsula-wide arts groups. She hopes to see North and Central Saanich councils contribute as well.

North Saanich Coun. Ted Daly said councils should first consider funding Peninsula arts groups directly, rather than the regional fund. The councils agreed to weigh the options.

Attracting, retaining businesses

Helping existing Peninsula businesses stay successful was the theme of a presentation by Dallas Gislason.

The Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce’s director of business development made an “investment” pitch to the councils. Though it wasn’t handed out to the 50 or so people who attended the meeting, the chamber seeks $25,000 per year for three years from each municipality to develop a business retention and expansion program for the Peninsula.