Saanich Governance Review
Community News

Saanich Governance Wrap-Up

Jun 27, 2017 Editor

by Roger Stonebanks, citizen reporter

The citizens committee reviewing governance in Saanich plans to present its report to council at the end of October.

That’s the prediction of John Schmuck, chairperson of the 12-member Saanich Governance Review Citizen Advisory Committee that was appointed by council.

“Although the quality of the feedback has been good, the number of participants in the survey and the public meetings has not been as high as we had hoped.

The review was approved by residents in the November 2014 referendum who voted “Yes” to this question: “Do you support Council initiating a community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and our partnerships within the Region?” Public participation, however, was poor. While the referendum passed 21,437 to 2,780 (total 24,217 votes cast) – 56,769 eligible residents did not vote.

It will be up to council what happens to the report.

The last few months have emphasized citizen engagement and 250 surveys have been completed. Details and demographics of the respondents – living inside or outside Saanich – are now being collated, Schmuck told Saanich Voice Online (SVO). The May 31 deadline for completed surveys was extended to June 15 to boost response and he said there was “marked increase in submissions in the last two weeks.”

Two workshops and two town halls, involving 122 participants, were also held along with targeted engagement sessions including UVic students, seniors, community associations, Saanich Community Association Network and Saanich advisory committees, and pop-up events.

Schmuck said while formal public consultation has concluded in June, “targeted discussions” were to continue for several weeks. There will be “more targeted discussions/focus groups with Saanich Mayor and Council; Saanich staff including Fire and Police; elected officials from other municipalities; business groups; youth groups; accessibility community; and, academic/research community.

“The committee and consultants will be reviewing and analyzing all of the data collected, conducting additional research, and developing recommendations,” he told SVO.

In an update to Saanich council received on June 26 (after the SVO deadline), Schmuck referred to the low public response.

“We have been impressed with the amount of thoughtful, considered input we have received, and appreciate the time that people have taken to complete the survey, either online or in hard copy, to share their ideas at meetings and to email us information, comments and suggestions,” he said.

“Although the quality of the feedback has been good, the number of participants in the survey and the public meetings has not been as high as we had hoped.

“Some people participated in more than one type of engagement, so we cannot say how many unique voices we actually heard from. There are any number of reasons for low participation levels in public processes like citizen engagement and voting, and we cannot be certain of the reasons in the case of the Governance Review.”