by Roger Stonebanks, citizen reporter
Mayor Alice Finall of North Saanich is retiring from municipal service this fall after 10 years as mayor (2008-2018) and six years as a councillor (1993-1999). Saanich Voice Online asked her six questions and she has replied.
What was the one thing you were most proud of accomplishing during your service?
“The achievement I am most proud of is bringing the Sandown project to completion, specifically the transfer of 83 acres of Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) into the ownership
of the District. This lengthy consultative and approval process began in 2010 and spanned three councils.
“We first received the agreement of the owner to transfer these 83 acres to the District in return for rezoning 12 acres to commercial use for the owner’s retention. We then worked to obtain approvals from the Agricultural Land Commission, the CRD and our residents. Even with these approvals achieved, moving the process through two further councils created additional challenges.
“Reaching the present status of a transition team, drawn from local residents, working toward implementing the community visions for the property, and Council approval of necessary municipal drainage remediation, with final ALC approval, is very gratifying. We have a covenant on this ALR land to keep it for agricultural purposes in perpetuity.
“I consider myself fortunate to have stayed in the mayor’s office long enough to reach this destination.”
What was your biggest challenge?
“Without question, my greatest challenge was working as constructively as possible with a hostile council during my second term as mayor [2011-2014]. This contentious atmosphere meant that as Mayor I needed to work hard to maintain a necessary level of civility to focus on the ongoing conduct of municipal affairs. I was acclaimed in the office at the 2011 election and I do believe that lack of a mayoral contest can dampen voter interest, reflected in lower voter turnout.”
Was there something you wanted to accomplish, but were not able to?
“There are always unfinished initiatives that overlap council terms but I can’t state any particular outstanding matter. Overall, in my 10 years as mayor, with the assistance of exceptional staff, many major concerns were addressed. The District is in excellent financial shape, with enviable financial reserves and a solid, expanding and varied tax base.
Our administration and departmental directors are second to none in the region. We have adhered to our regional role and enhanced the new Regional Growth Strategy provisions on food and food security.”
What do you think will be North Saanich’s biggest challenge in the coming decade?
“Without question the increasing pressure from developers for urbanization of the District will continue. If the present rural, agricultural, residential and marine balance that is North Saanich is to be preserved, future councils must protect and uphold the values and vision of the District’s Official Community Plan.
“Growth pressures must be controlled to enhance, not destroy, the liveability and character that are so important to our residents.
“The upcoming municipal election is very important, particularly with four-year terms for council. I urge our residents to become actively involved in the election. It is important to actively support and turn out to vote for candidates who solidly uphold those principles of our Official Community Plan that underpin our wonderful North Saanich. It is even more important that such candidates run for office and are encouraged to do so. Without adequate participation by willing candidates, voters are left with no meaningful choices.”
Are you endorsing any of the mayoral candidates?
Do you have any ‘retirement’ plans?
“More time with my wonderful husband, longer visits with my wonderful children and grandchildren, more relaxation time. However, my interest in municipal
governance, important agricultural and other community initiatives