No population growth in North Saanich? That’s not the case

North Saanich mayor responds to Coun. Dunstan Browne's comments about growth

Re: Previous NS tax hikes unsustainable (Letters, June 6)

A major flaw in Coun. Dunstan Browne’s reasoning, in his recent letter unjustly criticizing the fiscal performance of the previous council, is that it is based on his assertion that North Saanich is a “dormitory suburb without any growth.”

Contrary to that view, North Saanich is a vibrant agricultural, rural/residential community and regional transportation hub that has experienced steady residential and commercial growth, even during a time of global economic downturn.

As to residential growth, according to the recent 2011 Census data, North Saanich at 2.5 per cent experienced the highest percentage of population growth on the Peninsula, compared to Sidney (-1.2 per cent), Central Saanich (1.2 oer cent) and Saanich (1.4 per cent). The value of building permits from 2008-11 was $106.4 million, not including the millions of dollars in construction on airport lands. There have been steady and increasing numbers of business licences.

This growth, within our existing district land use framework, has resulted in an expansion of our tax base and increased budget revenues. As in previous years the municipality had increased expenditure pressures this year. Due in part to our increased revenue stream as well as budget cuts, council met those demands and also held down taxes. In his simplistic focus on expenditures, Coun. Browne ignores the revenue side of the ledger and presents a one-sided picture.

When the previous council took office in November 2008, tax increases had been running at eight to 10 per cent annually. That council committed to and achieved implementation of budgetary controls and structures for proper long-term fiscal planning. Any fair assessment would recognize that the previous council established the solid fiscal platform from which the district benefits today, while protecting and enhancing municipal services.

Coun. Browne’s comments represent an unfounded and unwarranted attack on the competence and character of the previous council.

Alice Finall

Mayor, North Saanich