NOTE: There will be just two September regular Council meetings, September 12 and 19, so please check the District website for agenda details. There is no meeting on Labour Day September 5th and no meeting on September 26th because of the annual UBCM Convention in Vancouver that starts on that date and runs for the rest of that week.

There will be additional meetings as follows:

  • September 6, 2011, 7:00 p.m. - Lands End/Curteis Pt. Neighbourhood Meeting, District Hall
  • September 7, 2011 - Special Council Meeting (Public Hearing) - Bylaws 1254 and 1255 - 7:00 p.m. District Hall
  • September 20, 2011 - Town Hall meeting on Sandown - 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. District Hall
Please check the District website for agenda details for the September 7 Special Council meeting.


With only two Council meetings during the summer, agendas get crowded and the August 22nd combined Committee of the Whole/Council meeting was no exception. We adjourned at about 11:30 p.m. but still had to defer agenda items to subsequent meetings. We also had strong public attendance for mainly two topics, a presentation on BC Hydro's Smart Meters and the Sidney/North Saanich Yacht Club application asking to amend their liquor licence.

HIGHLIGHTS of Committee of the Whole:

  • Smart Meters are controversial it seems, reflected in two presentations, one by BC Hydro and one by private citizens representing a citizen's coalition advocating for a moratorium on installation. As you know, BC Hydro began mandatory Smart Meter installation in early July, despite public concerns about implications for human health, privacy and increased utility costs. In my view, Hydro's position on this is not well defined and when asked why this initiative is being forced on the public, Hydro says it is because the provincial government has mandated these meters. In response, six private citizens provided detailed information about the potential for health impacts, privacy concerns and increased costs to customers for electricity. Two citizens gave compelling personal stories about what radiation and electromagnetic emissions can do to human health. Councilor Ruby Commandeur also stated that her disabled daughter suffers seizures, some triggered by electromagnetic activity. I later brought a motion for a Council resolution (which passed unanimously) to join 11 other jurisdictions and send a letter to the Minister of Health, requesting a moratorium on installation until the public has input, heath and privacy concerns are further researched and other alternatives are explored, which I believe should include an "opting out" clause for those who do not want these meters installed in their homes.
  • An independent report by Opus Consulting to review the 2005 Deep Cove/Pat Bay/McDonald Park sewer project was presented to Council for information. The report made eleven significant recommendations to guide future projects of this magnitude. The report was originally commissioned based on expressed public concern about how the project was executed and why at the time it went three times over budget. Yes, hindsight is 20/20 but lessons learned from such a review are invaluable, especially to our taxpayers. The report will be available on the District website.
  • A development permit application for a seawall on Lochside Dr. created a lengthy debate based on concern about the foreshore and about the length of time it took staff to process the application. I agree that 5 months to process an application of this type seems unduly long. When I asked how the delay happened, staff admitted an oversight and took full responsibility. We all agreed that the municipality needs to streamline, review and look for improvements to the process to avoid unnecessary delays. The application was approved.
  • An item on the Provincial government's proposal to establish a municipal auditor general's office was deferred for discussion to the next meeting.

HIGHLIGHTS of the Council Meeting:

  • Most of the items on the agenda were deferred to the next meeting, with the exception of the Sandown proposal and the Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club's application to amend their liquor licence to include dancing, which would enable an entertainment licence that would mean operating hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. daily.
  • Sandown Raceway: At my request for a deferral to the next Committee of the Whole meeting and following good points about the need for further communication with the public made by a North Saanich resident and other Council members, Council voted to defer the staff report and item to the next Committee of the Whole meeting. I agree with the staff recommendations in the July 13 report and realize that, to begin the process of wide consultation with other authorities and the CRD, we need to move forward. I have also just learned that the Agricultural Land Commission holds only one more meeting this year so timing is critical to move this ahead. But the deferral enables the public to have more time for input at the next Committee of the Whole meeting and reflects Council's concern that in the summer, many residents are away on holiday and not available to attend a meeting. I am completely supportive of this proposal and believe more timely communication with the public will serve the proposal well.
  • Sidney/North Saanich Yacht Club: The Commodore attended to explain and support the Yacht Club's request of the Provincial Liquor Control and Licencing Branch to amend its liquor licence to allow dancing at the Clubhouse. Local government is asked for its comments on such applications. I understand that the request involves a change in the category to Patron Participation Entertainment which would also extend operating hours to 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. A group of concerned residents, many of whom reside on Marina Way, attended and spoke to noise and traffic concerns, indicating that they had not been fully consulted by the Club about this application. I am aware of a history of traffic concerns in this area and that residents have appealed before to the municipality to implement traffic control measures. As residents pointed out, Marina Way is a dead end street so what comes in must also go out the same way. As a former Sidney/North Saanich Yacht Club member, I know that the members are responsible and that the Club to my knowledge is well run. But the concerns of adjacent residents must be considered in any application of this type. I moved and Council agreed, to refer this item back to staff for more information and to give the Yacht Club an opportunity to canvas adjacent neighbours about their concerns.


Whether you agreed or not with his politics, you must admit that Jack Layton was a class act to the end of his life. He leaves a legacy of unbelievable energy, dedication and courage as a person and as a politician. He restored integrity and honesty to politics and had that "common touch" when it came to reaching out to Canadians from all walks of life. He was a scholar too who brought to the national stage issues of poverty and homelessness.

Thanks Jack Layton for making Canada just a little bit kinder.


I spent an hour and a half yesterday with two spokespersons, one of whom is North Saanich resident Donna Robinson. She and her colleagues are advocating against BC Hydro's new Smart Meters. They will be making a presentation to our August 22 Council meeting and I urge you to attend to hear them.

They raise a variety of issues of which we should be aware about the installation and use of these meters and, more importantly, about the lack of public input and debate on the merits of this BC Hydro initiative and the meters' potential for invasion of privacy. I have to admit that before my meeting with them, I did not know a lot about these meters, other than I understand that they are purported by Hydro to be, among other things, a cost-savings to the Corporation and to streamline power consumption and billing processes. But are they a cost savings for customers?

The Tyee online newspaper is also carrying a story on the skinny behind Smart Meters which is informative but also controversial. I urge you to visit their website for another take on this issue (you will find their website on the right hand side of this blog).

As you may know, pursuant to provisions of the Community Charter, local governments are responsible for safeguarding community health. Mrs. Robinson and her colleagues are presenting to all municipal governments in the CRD, urging that they send letters to the Province requesting a moratorium on installation until more is known about Smart Meters and their impacts on human health and privacy.


It's clear that since Ted Daly's comment in the August 2, 2011 edition of the Times Colonist (TC) criticizing in part the Capital Regional District Board (CRD) and Regional Growth Strategy (RGS), other writers have responded in the TC as I did, arguing their support for the Board's role in providing oversight to regional land use planning through the RGS.

Protecting rural, agricultural and green spaces from urban sprawl is fundamental to the Strategy, to regional planning and, in my view, reflects the majority opinion of elected municipal politicians who currently sit at the CRD Board table. And, now, sustainability, both locally and regionally, is on the lips of citizens, planning experts, environmental groups and many of us elected to public office who believe in a regional planning model.

The sustainability conversation for me begs some of the following questions: In the face of growth and demographics, how do we conserve and expand the resources we have such as water, energy and local food? How do we protect and enhance green spaces to address issues of climate change and accessible recreation? How do we undertake transportation planning to move workers to jobs and people to services? How do we address the tax burden and shrinking municipal revenues against needs to fund upgrades to infrastructure?

Instead of questioning the role of the CRD Board and Regional Growth Strategy, how about supporting a regional model that continues to bring everyone together to find answers to some of these questions, for the benefit of the region and the people who live here?