OUR VIEW: 2012: A year to be heard

Year gone by was one of change; year ahead will bring interesting developments

It’s not over yet, but 2011 was a year of big change and big challenges for the Peninsula.

It was a year defined by democracy at all levels, beginning with a federal election that saw longtime Conservative MP Gary Lunn unseated in favour of Green Party leader Elizabeth May – who also represented the first elected MP in her party’s history. Canada-wide, voters rode the so-called Orange Wave, giving the federal New Democrats the Opposition in parliament and decimating the Liberals mere months before the NDP’s leader, Jack Layton, died of cancer.

There was the HST referendum and the election of Christy Clark as B.C. Liberal leader and premier and Adrian Dix as B.C. NDP leader.

In March, Noth Saanich asked its residents whether it could borrow $1.68 million to renovate and expand its fire hall through a referendum.

Voters on the Peninsula also had their say in November’s municipal elections, which brought a new mayor, Alastair Bryson, to Central Saanich, left North Saanich council in a clear split between two sides and brought a pair of new faces to Sidney’s council table.

There were the legal battles between Central Saanich, Vantreight Farms and the ratepayers society; the Sandown proposal moved forward, then stalled in North Saanich; and Peninsula Co-op struck a deal with the Tsartlip First Nation. We’ll likely see more from all three of those stories as we make our way through 2012, as well as the unknowns of a commercial development at Tsawout.

We could see progress on the Keating interchange, a new vision for Sidney’s Beacon Avenue strip and Abbeyfield Housing might come up with a plan for seniors care on what is currently Agricultural Land Reserve property.

Whatever the issue, Peninsula residents have the power to affect their communities. Informed, engaged citizens are the backbone of progress, so let’s make sure 2012 is a year our voices are heard.