Questions and Answers
“Does North Saanich have any wildlife management concerns, and if so, what methods (culling/euthanasia, relocation, protection/fencing, birth control, etc.) would [you] support?”
During the time I have been a Councillor (2014-18), there have been no pressing issues brought forward by residents related to wildlife management in North Saanich. I am aware of more acute concerns with geese and deer in Central Saanich. I am also aware that we do have a healthy population of deer which results in conflict with vehicle traffic and residential & commercial gardens.
In 2013, the 2011-2014 Council discussed the components of a Deer Management Strategy. A motion “That Council not support a controlled public hunt” was carried by all present.
Other motions that carried with no opposition included the following:
- That Council accept Staff recommendation #1 regarding fencing for agricultural land and refer the matter back to staff with respect to residential properties.
- That Council accept Staff recommendation #1 with respect to landscape alternatives.
- That the District of North Saanich consider an anti-feeding bylaw regarding deer, rabbits, raccoons, geese and grey squirrels.
- That the responsibility of dealing with aggressive deer remain a provincial matter
I am aware of ongoing efforts in Oak Bay to deal with their urban deer problem. I understand that they have tried the culling method to reduce numbers but have more recently embarked on birth control strategy which has been approved by the Province. This method is supposed to bring about better outcomes in that the deer population remains in the area but the population increase is eliminated or significantly reduced. I haven’t studied the options in detail but do support this birth control method.
For North Saanich, I support fencing options for agricultural and residential lands.
The new Council may elevate the priority for this item during the 2018-2022 Strategic planning process. If our situation in North Saanich warrants further action and the case for culling/euthanasia or relocation was justified based on current research and evidence of success in other municipalities, I would support that direction.
And finally, wildlife don’t pay much attention to municipal boundaries so this is really a regional issue. We we have to work with neighbouring and regional municipalities in order to arrive at a consistent and effective approach to wildlife management.
“Hey Geoff, my husband and I are doing our research and trying to decide how to cast our votes for Mayor. We are residents of Deep Cove, we both work downtown, we have two kids who attend Deep Cove Elementary. We’re interested in a few matters and wondered if you could tell us your thoughts? Do you feel the public services provided by the municipality are sufficient? What improvements would you make?” North Saanich Resident
Public services may refer to quite a variety of services offered by the municipality.
I think of the standard items such as road maintenance, bike lanes, potable water, sewer (where installed), and parks & trails. For these services I feel that the District does a pretty good job with current staffing levels. I would like to encourage Council consideration of some additional investment in parks & trails maintenance – with a focus on removing invasive species.
The other aspect of public service pertains more to how we serve residents who visit, call, email or write to District staff for building permits,development permits, variance permits, burning permits, dog licences, paying taxes, submitting complaints, corresponding with Council, etc.. Measuring our success in this area of service provision is more difficult and tends to be somewhat anecdotal. My sense is that for most of the items above staff do a pretty good if not excellent job. I would like to encourage Council consideration of policy directed at enhanced performance measurement (dashboard) so that we can assess things like timeliness of response, duration of permit application from start to closure, resident satisfaction, etc.
“Hey Geoff, my husband and I are doing our research and trying to decide how to cast our votes for Mayor. We are residents of Deep Cove, we both work downtown, we have two kids who attend Deep Cove Elementary. We’re interested in a few matters and wondered if you could tell us your thoughts? Where do you stand on land development in North Saanich?” North Saanich Resident
Prior to joining Council and during this past term I have been an active participant in numerous housing related forums, events, workshops, and conferences. These covered topics such as affordable housing, workforce housing, working with non-profits, CRD regional housing, non-market or near-market rental housing, etc..
We also participated in and partially commissioned a Peninsula Affordable Housing Gap analysis which clearly documented that those with household income <= 80% of the census area median (~$60,000) have virtually no available options when it come to finding safe, secure accommodation.
My position is that North Saanich does have a limited role to play in the regional demand for housing options but that our efforts, with the limited non-ALR or non-agricultural land we have, should be focused on delivering non-market rental housing in Area 1 (the area near McTavish, Canora, East Saanich and also across the highway near Lochside and Bakerview). There are many more layers to this housing or land development question and I would be happy to discuss further on the phone (250-656-4562) or in person.
“Hey Geoff, my husband and I are doing our research and trying to decide how to cast our votes for Mayor. We are residents of Deep Cove, we both work downtown, we have two kids who attend Deep Cove Elementary. We’re interested in a few matters and wondered if you could tell us your thoughts? What are the top 3 actions/projects you’d like to lead during your time in office?” North Saanich Resident
I’ll answer this in two parts and I hope that will be ok. The first will be more administrative in nature and the second more issues or ‘project’ based.
We are transitioning to a new Mayor and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) next term – both are retiring. This will allow an opportunity to start fresh so to speak. The new Council will make the final CAO hiring decision in December. I would like to see Council and the new CAO establish a culture of proactive, transparent communication both internally and externally (residents). Councillor Gartshore and I have been advocating for this for most of the term and thankfully staff are now posting via Facebook and Twitter. I would like to see the District publish more summary information associated with the number of In Camera meetings and associated Rise and Report from those meetings.
In addition to communication improvements I would like to see a few changes to our strategic planning process which begins off soon after the new Council takes office. This planning process ties together Council’s collective priorities with the budget, resourcing and ultimately taxation.
The top two policy items that I would encourage Council to consider are: affordability (housing) and agricultural initiatives. We are at the final stages of two policy projects related to these two items. The Affordable Housing Policy OCP bylaw amendments have received two readings and Council is anticipating a staff report on the Sandown agricultural lands transition report. I support both of these initiatives moving forward. Both will require careful consideration by Council and residents.
“What are your feelings about current funding, and career staffing levels for the North saanich fire dept?” North Saanich Resident
We currently have 4 career positions and 37 volunteer positions.
Total 2018 budget for Fire & Emergency services is $1,087,6004 with a supplemental increase of $105,900 for 2018. The bulk of the increase was attributed to on-call pay, mileage reimbursement, and safety equipment. Fire services represents ~11% of the total municipal budget.
Council has always been receptive to appropriate funding for this important department and this year was no different. I support this sentiment.
It’s hard for me to comment on whether the career staffing levels should stay the same or increase (or decrease I suppose). We rely on the department through Chief John Trelford to bring recommendations to Council during the budget process each year. If a staffing increase was recommended and justified then I would support such a request.
I and I’m sure all of Council and the residents of North Saanich appreciate the cost-effective and important community service that the volunteer department provides.
“What are your thoughts on having a public boat launch in N.S? Is this something you would push for, or do you feel the launch located in Sidney is adequate for the peninsula?” North Saanich Resident
I support efforts to establish a public boat ramp in North Saanich. The Tulista ramp in Sidney is not sufficient to meet the demand of regular fishing and recreational boaters on the Peninsula and the region. To that end I made this item one of my platform items in the 2014 election.
We have not been successful yet but have spent a significant amount of effort trying to have a ramp built.
I brought motions forward at Council early in the term to press the Victoria Airport Authority and the Province to seriously consider public access at the float plane base in Pat Bay. Myself and Councillor McClintock met with the Minister of Forest, Lands, etc. and VAA staff but ultimately were not able to make any progress.
I am still participating with a group established for the purpose of advocating for a ramp. The name is Peninsula Marine Access Group (PMAG) and is composed of Sidney Anglers, myself, and interested community members.
We have had numerous meetings with our local MLA Adam Olsen and MP Elizabeth May. Parks Canada has also been pulled into the conversation more recently and letters have been sent to Federal Ministers to gauge support and make them aware.
There is a large property off Lands End commonly referred to as the Queen Mary Bay property. This is a Special Development area in our OCP and the property is currently on the market. All of the parties mentioned above have been in conversation with the owners of the property to discuss possible alternatives for the site that would benefit the all of the interested parties.
In addition, Seaspan is planning to do some work on their facility beside BC Ferries at Swartz Bay. This is another opportunity to see if a public ramp can be part of their plans.
I am committed to continued public boat ramp advocacy as Mayor of North Saanich.