Saanich Celebrates 2019 accomplishments!

December 10, 2019

2019 saw many accomplishments in all areas of the municipality, here are just a few of the things we are proud of this year!

New Strategic Plan adopted

Council adopted the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan that will guide their term. The Strategic Plan defines our priorities, processes, and short and long-term work plans. The plan includes 40 major initiatives under five new goal areas: community well-being; affordable housing, land use and infrastructure management; organizational excellence; economic diversification; and climate action and environmental leadership.

Kings Road land purchase

We purchased a unique piece of land from BC Hydro for $5.5 million to respond to community needs and capitalize on future opportunities. The Saanich Legacy Foundation is leading a one-year fundraising initiative to raise $2.75 million to secure the 2.23 hectare green space as a resource for future generations.

Citizen and business surveys produce positive results

We heard from more than 1,500 residents and 400 businesses during our citizen and business surveys. Ninety-nine per cent of Saanich residents and 100 per cent of Saanich businesses rate the quality of life in our community as good or very good. Respondents said housing, or the cost of housing, is the single most important issue facing Saanich.

Budgeting and financial reporting awards

For the 12th consecutive year, our Finance Department received the Canadian Award for Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for our 2017 financial statements. For the 10th consecutive year, we received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for our 2018 to 2022 Financial Plan.

Fire Department celebrates 100 years of community service

Since 1919, the department has grown from one firefighter and 1,000 feet of hose to 127 members, seven support staff and one of the most advanced fleets in the region. The Saanich Fire Department has expanded beyond fighting fires and into almost every aspect of public safety in the region. From fire suppression to marine rescues, dispatch services to hazardous materials, they do it all and continue to improve upon these services daily.

Moving Saanich Forward project selected for planning award

Our Active Transportation Plan, Moving Saanich Forward, was selected for a Planning Institute of BC silver award in the category of excellence in policy planning – city and urban areas. Through the Moving Saanich Forward project, we worked with the community to develop a vision along with policies and actions to guide the development of safe, attractive and convenient active transportation options for people of all ages and abilities over the next 30 years. We are now in the process of implementing the actions outlined in the plan.

Aquatic employees receive vital link awards

Four aquatic staff received Vital Link Awards from BC Emergency Health Services for their quick and skillful life-saving actions at a cardiac arrest emergency. Current employees Katie Bowers and Ceilidh Robertson-Jones and previous employees Jeff Harris and Wade Thoreson received nominations for their heroism in rushing to the aid of a patron when he collapsed due to cardiac arrest at the Gordon Head Recreation Centre.

Redevelopment of Elk Lake Drive fire station

The first project under the Strategic Facilities Master Plan kicked off with Council approving $26 million for the redevelopment of fire station #2. This multi-stage project is the first under our facilities framework. Fire station #2 is a priority due to increased services needs and the requirement to appropriately house fire apparatus. Planning is now underway to bring us closer to making this important project a reality.

Land leased for new bike park

We leased a one acre portion of land from BC Hydro for the development of a youth bike skills park. The space will offer elements designed to promote adventure, assist in youth health and development and increase physical activity. We will lease the property at the north end of the George Tripp Substation for $1 to renew every five years.

New inclusion services program introduced

We reaffirmed our commitment to provide safe and accessible recreation opportunities for people of all ages and abilities with our new inclusion services program. We also plan to develop future programing for groups that need support such as older adults, youth-at-risk and new Canadians.

Earth Drums unveiled

We welcomed Earth Drums to Cedar Hill Park as part of Culture Days. Artist Carey Newman (Hayalthkin’geme) designed Earth Drums to engage people in reconciliation by asking them to change their relationship with the land. The interactive artwork won our Canada 150 public art competition.

Accelerated actions in response to the climate emergency

Council declared a climate emergency and endorsed accelerated actions to reduce our community’s greenhouse gas emissions and improve our capacity to respond to climate change. We’re the first municipality in the Capital Regional District to bring forward accelerated actions in response to the climate emergency declaration. Council also adopted new targets for our community greenhouse gas emissions - cutting half of our emissions over the next decade and getting to zero carbon by 2050. 

Strategic and financial planning processes evolve

We launched Shaping Saanich as a public education campaign to ensure our residents understand the elements of municipal decision making and the opportunities to participate. We heard from residents that they want to participate in our strategic and financial planning processes, but they need more information before they can contribute. We are committed to providing accessible learning and input opportunities.

New Building Bylaw adopted incorporating the BC Energy Step Code

Council adopted the Building Bylaw, 2019, No. 9529 to update construction regulations and introduce the BC Energy Step Code. The BC Energy Step Code is a provincial standard that establishes progressive performance steps in energy efficiency that can be used by local governments to require new building construction to meet levels of energy efficient that are above and beyond the base building code. The new Building Bylaw requires all construction to meet either Step 2 or Step 3 of the Code as of January 1, 2020, depending on the type of building being constructed.

High performance venue continues

Council voted to continue providing high performance sport organizations and clubs with preferred access to Saanich Commonwealth Place (SCP) after a 25-year operation and funding agreement with the federal and provincial governments ends in August 2020. SCP is a competition venue that hosts athletes and spectators from across Canada and around the world.

Fire services review completed

We conducted a comprehensive analysis of the current state and future requirements of the Fire Department. We created a subsequent 2020 Master Fire Plan to inform planning and decision-making for the delivery of fire services in Saanich for years to come.

Looking forward to a great 2020!