North Saanich Mayor Peter Jones promised the first 100 days of the new council “will be exciting” as he will ask the council to back a new vision on issues such as the council’s official community plan review.
“Residents speak up,” he said earlier in his inaugural address. “They want to keep North Saanich as a rural oasis. To achieve this, I want to include an urban containment boundary at the current border with Central Saanich and Sidney, supporting the vision of a regional growth strategy and in a sustainable manner Strengthen our rural roots by developing North Saanich.”
While Jones did not elaborate further on his new vision for the OCP, he said in an earlier interview that he would ask the city council to halt the process for two months.
Jones’ inaugural address also reiterated an earlier commitment to involving local experts in the process to help develop a voter-compliant vision to keep North Saanich rural.
Jones is one of five members of the incoming committee, who were earlier endorsed by Save North Saanich.
The group has been critical of the community’s specific scrutiny of official community plans and has generally focused on the pace of development – also earlier backing the current council. Jack McClintock and Celia Stock and the new Couns. Erin McConkie and Sanjeev Shrivastava.
New County Phil DiBattista and current MP. Brett Smith was also sworn in.
If North Saanich residents witnessed a very different committee inauguration than the previous one, central Saanich residents witnessed a committee inauguration that was essentially the same as Coun. Sarah Riddell as a new member. But it’s not lacking in meaning.
Riddell won the most votes in 2022 and is the first woman to be elected to Central Saanich in eight years.
Mayor Ryan Windsor, who returned to office by clapping, welcomed Riddle in his inaugural address. “We are fortunate to have you on our board as a new voice and decision maker in our community,” he said of Riddell.
He later identified the city government’s climate leadership program as a priority for the next term. “It guides us to reduce emissions through practical programs for residents, such as the oil heat pump program, which allows homeowners to significantly reduce pollution while heating their homes,” he said. “This is a first-of-its-kind project in British Columbia, and it has shown leadership even though we are a mid-sized municipality.”
He also expressed confidence that the City Council will continue to support Central Saanich’s farming community. “Improving our active transport network and road safety remains an area of great interest to our community, and other road improvements such as the Keating Flyover will again be key this term,” he added.
Sydney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith also returned to office with clapping. Voters elected two new MPs – Couns. Steve Dark and Richard Novick. McNeil-Smith acknowledged both of them, while also welcoming four returning MPs – Couns. Sara Duncan, Scott Garnett, Terri O’Keeffe and Chad Rintoul — all in their second terms.
McNeil-Smith’s inaugural address identified a review of the city’s zoning bylaw as an “important priority” among other issues following the completion of the OCP review earlier this year.
“Sydney’s housing development will continue to be a top priority,” he added. “The new OCP sets out important new policies on how we can continue to grow in a balanced way, and considers further policies to provide housing options for working individuals, families and seniors.”
The city council is also expected to review the draft economic development plan and the results of the parking study currently underway in 2023, he said.
McNeil-Smith also spoke about two major infrastructure projects: Galaran Road near the Amazon facility and a proposed roundabout at Beacon Wharf.
He said the Victoria Airports Authority (VAA), Sydney and North Saanich were currently awaiting the outcome of applications for the $5 million federal grant before finalising the financial details of the roundabout. “We expect the project to be launched and completed by the end of 2023,” he said.
The project, led by the VAA, faces cost overruns, and North Saanich has already spoken out against paying any extra. The original memorandum of agreement called for VAA and Sidney to each pay 40 percent of the cost, with North Saanich paying the rest.
McNeil-Smith also spoke about Beacon Wharf, but did not offer any possible clues about the future direction.
“The public will remember that, following the Beacon Wharf public engagement in 2021, council decided to maintain the existing wharf where practicable,” he said. “The leases of the two businesses operating at the wharf were also renewed until the end of 2024. Every five years Conduct a condition assessment of the terminal; the next is scheduled for 2023, with results to be presented to council.”
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