by Roger Stonebanks, citizen reporter
Vicki Sanders served as a Saanich councillor from 2005 until last year when she chose not to seek re-election. Before council, she was active in community associations. Here she answers a few questions from Saanich Voice Online about her life after council service.
How is life after Saanich Council?
Life is good after Council. I’ve had my moments when I miss it terribly. Like any change it takes time to get used to it. My life for 13 years was controlled by the Council meeting schedule and activities.
I’m certainly having a busy life. But on Monday night I can choose to stay at home watch TV or have an evening out. In the first weeks I did experience anxiety trying to adapt to no structure. And of course the constant questions about where I was going to travel to. And then the relax word. No one ever taught me about relaxing.
That was all irrelevant when two weeks after my last Council meeting I was called to have cataract surgery followed by the second eye just after New Year’s. This is keeping me busy.
As you can imagine with four terms on Council I managed to acquire a lot of paper. I’m shredding, shredding, shredding. Lots of interesting information to pass on. A lot of time spent reading reports, letters etc. and reminiscing about what a great time it was. Amazing how good it feels to see the kitchen and dining room tables not covered in Saanich Council work.
What are you doing?
It is humorous how many times I’ve heard people say that they have no time since retiring. They weren’t kidding. My calendar is full. As soon as I announced I wasn’t running for reelection I was contacted by organizations to join their boards. I was truly flattered but I soon realized I needed to be selective.
I am on the board of HCP (Horticultural Centre of the Pacific) and the Shelbourne Community Kitchen. I had been liaison to HCP several times over the years as Councillor. It is a good fit as I admire the work they do and what a gem they are in Saanich. I am on the board of the Shelbourne Community Kitchen. I’ve been on the board as a citizen since its inception. Again an organization that is an asset to Saanich. I belong to two Toastmasters clubs of which I serve on the executive of both. I joined Toastmasters in 2002 when I decided that I wanted to run for Council. I was terrified to speak publicly. I was just going to attend a few meetings. I guess it’s now a few hundred. I’m continuing with Saanich’s Pulling Together program as lead steward for Margaret Wright Park. I’ve been a member of the Program for 10 years or more. I am continuing with my experience with Saanich’s Heritage Foundation and actively promoting Heritage preservation. I gave a speech at the Centennial Branch Library in February about my experience renovating my heritage house while maintaining the character and making it energy efficient. It was a personal story of my home which was heritage designated last year in celebration of Canada150 and the house’s 80th anniversary.
I am following municipal matters closely. I’ve attended all but two Council meetings. One lost out to a belated Christmas dinner with some family members who were out of town for Christmas. It was the only day they had available. Although, I can’t tell you how hard it was to not pick the Council meeting first. I really wanted to be there for the discussion of the items on the agenda. I don’t watch the webcast. It isn’t the same as being there. You miss the interaction going on in addition to the little vignettes of the Councillors speaking. I also enjoy attending to see the few community association people from our days that still attend. And then there is coffee after the meeting to rehash what took place.
Are you involved at the community association level?
I am involved in community associations as a resource. I facilitated a workshop for the Mt. Tolmie Association for board development and land use. I’ve joined the land use committee of the Quadra Cedar Hill Association to interpret documents and processes developed during my tenure as president of the Association.
And if you want to reflect on this – your views of council for the last four years?
The 2014 election was a vote for change. Saanich has always been a well-run municipality particularly in the Council chamber. I believe that was based on a strong foundation built by councils since 1906. I feel the desire for change created a decision-making atmosphere that did not utilize or respect Saanich’s corporate history (memory). Saanich has a history of “we” decisions, not “I” decisions.
And your impressions of the new council?
The new council does not have the experience or breadth of knowledge of previous councils. However they have had more training than any previous council. They continue to have regular learning sessions. I predict a successful term if they use their training and make knowledgeable decisions based on what has gone before, what is current and Saanich’s vision for the future.