Saanich Spotlight - Winter 2020


Season's Greetings from Mayor Haynes

We are approaching what will no doubt be a very different and perhaps less traditional holiday season. My hope is that each of you takes a moment to give yourselves some personal space to appreciate all you have done personally to overcome the difficulties of these past months.

We can also take the opportunity to look at creating some new memories during our celebrations this year. This year for example Cathy my wife and I have placed a 20’ lighted tree on the boulevard to welcome the festive season for our neighbours. We have just a mini 24” one in our home.

You may know that your municipality achieved some remarkable successes in 2020 despite the significant challenges. In my Mayor’s annual address [PDF - 62 KB] at you will see the progress we have made for you on a variety of initiatives. Our top 2020 accomplishments are highlighted in this Spotlight.
Something I’m particularly proud of is the creation of our new equity and inclusion statement. We now read this out at every Council and Committee meeting to reaffirm that everyone is safe and welcome in our community:

We are committed to celebrating the rich diversity of people in our community. We are guided by the principle that embracing diversity enriches the lives of all people. We all share the responsibility for creating an equitable and inclusive community and for addressing discrimination in all forms.

I feel incredibly lucky, and I’m sure you will agree, that we live in such a welcoming and beautiful community. Our residents are a huge part of what makes Saanich so terrific. I know we will continue to work together to achieve much more in the coming year.

From my family to yours, I wish you a safe and healthy holiday season and a happy New Year!

Mayor Fred Haynes


COVID-19 updates

Mandatory masks

As a reminder to our residents who visit our Saanich facilities, masks are required in all indoor publicly accessible and common areas. This includes lobbies, stairways, hallways, washrooms, elevators, and meeting rooms. This requirements applies to both staff and members of the public. 

Participants in non-sport and non-fitness related activities in our recreation centres must wear a mask. In areas like weight rooms, masks should be worn in between elements when not working out.  

Recreation cancellations and suspensions

Saanich Recreation has temporarily suspended programs and classes per the updated provincial health orders.  

Please visit or for the most current information or call your local recreation centre before you visit. 

Parks changes

Park permit applications that encourage social activities in parks such as picnics, events or gatherings are not being accepted or issued. Some existing permits will continue under COVID-19 protocols and safety plans (e.g., amateur sports).

The provincial health orders also restrict certain activities such as spectators at indoor or outdoor sports and activity with teams from outside the Capital Regional District (CRD). This means park permit holders cannot host teams, groups and individuals from outside the CRD at any Saanich facility. This will be in effect until further notice.

You can still enjoy one of Saanich’s 170 parks and more than 100 kilometres of trails by going for a walk with your immediate household members or one other close contact while keeping physical distance. The playgrounds remain open, but we recommend coming back later if it’s busy.



Please be kind

Using the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry, please be kind. Be kind when interacting with others in the community. We are all facing the significant challenges of COVID-19 together and everyone is trying their best. During times of heightened emotions and stress it’s a good idea to consider the old adage:

Before you speak….THINK!

  • Is it true? 
  • Is it helpful?
  • Is it inspiring?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it kind?

Information, resources, and updates are available at


Strategic Plan 2021 check in meetings

Council will review the progress made on the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan [PDF - 7 MB] during two check in meetings in 2021. The meetings are scheduled for January 18 and September 20, 2021.

At these meetings, Council will review progress on initiatives and determine if there are any initiatives that need to be added, revised or removed from the plan. The plan is a living document and Council will adjust as needed due to emerging issues and changing priorities. 

Read the full 2019-2023 Strategic Plan at


Engineering and Occupational Health and Safety have a new home 

“Our space at Municipal Hall has served us well, but with increasing demand we knew we needed to find a space that would allow us to continue to provide a high level of service to the public,” said Harley Machielse, Director of Engineering. “Those who use our engineering services will now be able to engage with our team at our new location and we’re excited to work with the public from our new space.”

Important service changes 

Permits and land development document requests, including payment services, that were previously provided at Municipal Hall will now be available at 3500 Blanshard Street. 

Types of permits and requests include:

  • Construction and road allowance permits 
  • Servicing requirements for developments 
  • Transportation related inquiries 
  • Underground servicing

In order to fulfill requests quickly, Saanich staff recommend that requests be submitted by email, but in-person services are still available. Payments can be made upon pick up of permits at the new location. More information is available at

In addition to our Engineering Department, our Occupational Health and Safety Division (OHS) also moved from the Municipal Hall to 3500 Blanshard Street. OHS staff support Saanich’s OHS Program and Workplace Injury Management Program both of which are “COR” certified by WorkSafeBC. The OHS Program includes risk assessment, hazard identification and control, training and certification, safety inspections, incident investigations, sub-programs (e.g., asbestos, fall protection, hearing, and respirators) and support for Saanich’s Joint Health and Safety Committees.

Engineering contacts

Get in touch with our team by phone or email.

Occupational Health and Safety contacts


Learn about our leaf program

The leaf program runs every year from October to December. Each year these crews work tirelessly to collect, mulch and distribute the billions* of leaves that fall in our beautiful municipality. We met with one of our drivers Owen Abrey and asked him a few questions!

Ask a leafer Q and A

How many staff are involved in the leaf program?
There are 3 leaf trucks in operation throughout the leaf collection program

Each leaf truck is run by a team of 3; the driver and 2 operators.

This means that 9 people are responsible for collecting every leaf pile from just about every street in Saanich…twice!

You guys move so quickly! What’s the hurry?
As mentioned, 9 people are responsible for collecting all the leaf piles in Saanich, so we have a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time!

Each team records the amount of truck-loads they collect in a day and there’s a bit of friendly competition to get the most loads in a day, for bragging rights.

The longer leaves sit on the ground, getting wet and composting, the harder they are to collect. Extra effort while the leaves are still dry and “fluffy” means less work later.

What happens to all the leaves?
As the leaves are collected they’re mulched and deposited in the back of the truck. Each truck holds about 20 yards of mulched leaves.

Leaf mulch is pretty highly sought after by farmers, so a lot of it goes to various local farms around Saanich. Saanich Parks Department also gets some for use in their gardens.

We also divert some to Hyacinth, Mt. Douglas, and Playfair parks for public use.

Should I pile my leaves in a long row, multiple small piles, or one large pile?
It is easier to collect from one large pile than rows.

What sorts of factors should I take into consideration when choosing where to locate my leaf pile?
Leaf trucks are about 30ft long, about 10ft tall. Position piles in a way that they could be easily backed into from the travel lane of the road.

Choose a place free from overhead obstructions like tree branches, low telephone/cable lines.

Avoid piling behind poles, tree trunks, sign/light posts, etc.

What are the best ways to keep my leaf pile from blowing away in the wind?
Weighted tarp overtop.
Chicken wire or stucco wire loops.
Please do not use garbage bags or brown
paper bags.

It’s cold out! How are you guys wearing in t-shirts!?
Leaf collection is really really hard work. Trust me, we’re plenty warm.

How do you stay dry on those rainy days?
We don’t.
Even with the best rain gear, you’re gonna get wet. You just choose whether you’re soaked with rain or soaked with sweat.
Some operators bring 2-3 changes of clothes a day and change every lunch/coffee break.

If there was something blocking my leaf pile on the day my street was collected, why couldn’t you just move the pile to where you could collect it?
Sometimes we do… if it’s small enough or only needs to be moved a short distance.

It’s passed the scheduled time where my leaves should have been picked up and they still haven’t been. What gives?
Leaf collection is a pretty fluid process. Leaves come down at different rates in different areas every year. Sometimes it takes us longer than anticipated to get through an area and move on to the next. Be patient! We’ll get there.

Check online/app for schedule updates.

Some of the busier streets may be collected later, if it makes more sense from an operational standpoint.

Why did the truck come part way down my street, then leave without picking up my pile?
If the truck fills up before we can finish a street, we have to go empty it and come back to the street later on. We go through a list of what streets have been completed line by line, so we won’t forget to come back, don’t worry!

Leaf collection by the numbers!
We’re currently sitting at approximately 6,150 cubic yards of mulched leaves delivered to parks, farms and vendors around Saanich.
We’ve completed 1,454 separate streets in a little over 5 weeks with 9 people and 3 trucks!
Find schedules, FAQ’s and more at
(*May not actually be billions)


Saannich celebrates Tree Appreciation Day

The goal of this year’s Tree Appreciation Day was to show appreciation to the existing, mature Western red Cedar, Douglas-fir and Grand fir trees that have seen high impacts from Mount Douglas Park visitors on the forest floor, resulting in no vegetation and compacted soils.

Our last Tree Appreciation Day event in Mount Douglas Park was in 2015 at the Douglas Creek Weir. Saanich Parks uses $20,000 of capital budget for this amazing event each year.


  • The COVID-19 style Tree Appreciation Day took place with invite-only planting parties at the restoration site at the beach parking lot with the following groups:
  • Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society, Saanich Parks staff and Council
  • 10th Garry Oak Venturer Scouts Company
  • Victoria Nature School grade one students
  • These groups planted over 600 trees, shrubs and ferns.
  • 75 trees planted include: Western red Cedar, Big leaf maple, Western hemlock, and Grand fir (40 trees from Fanny Bay Salmonid Enhancement Society).
  • Shrubs planted include: Nootka rose, Snowberry, Dull Oregon grape, Indian plum, Ocean spray, and Sword fern (Huckleberry still to come).


The groups constructed an interactive, fun trail for the “young at heart” and included a mix of boulders and logs. Cedar split rail fencing was also installed around restoration area.

Compost and mixed mulch were added to the site to help amend compacted soil and large woody debris and rocks were added to enhance habitat and nutrients. Approximately 1600 square metres of forest floor was restored through these efforts.

On November 13, Saanich Parks held an informal grand opening of the trail with 3 to 5 year olds from the Victoria
Nature School.


Saanich Municipal Hall exhibitions

Each time you visit Saanich Municipal Hall, you are greeted by unique exhibitions that reflect the fabric of our community. Saanich has a long history of hosting arts, culture and heritage displays on a rotating basis. Space is provided free of charge to artists and groups as a community service. From artworks by emerging or established artists, to community art program displays, to Archives exhibits showcasing the history of Saanich and its residents, there is always something new to discover.

We feature these artists through December and you can enjoy their work by visiting them online:

Main floor window

Brian Rombough, wood sculptures

Brian is inspired by the natural treasures of the Juan de Fuca and Haro Straits. Wood and stone serve as the vehicle of expression for Brian's vision. “Coming from a rich heritage of stone masons and carpenters, I've always been drawn to shapes, patterns, and the inherent strength of natural materials.”

Main floor gallery

Paula Nasmith, Hidden Worlds: Paintings and Prints

Paula Nasmith is a Canadian artist based out of Victoria, British Columbia. Her work aims to inspire imagination and curiosity. Her paintings and illustrations depict hidden worlds and places of mystery and enchantment. Her art practice includes regular collaboration with other local artists, and she loves being part of a vibrant arts community.

Second floor gallery

City Artworks, Francisco Munoz and Dean Simpson

Francisco Munoz and Dean Simpson are local Victoria artists who create unique and contemporary pieces of art using stained glass in innovative ways. Revisiting the ancient art of mosaic, they strive to create a “painted in glass” effect, combining detail with flow.



Creating resilience: The journey continues with “Healing Through the Arts” 

In March 2020, a second successful year wrapped up for an expressive arts community program developed with Victoria Women’s Transition House Society (VWTH) for older women recovering from partner abuse.

Shortly afterwards, planning for a Fall 2020 proposal began – just as the COVID-19 pandemic struck and facilities and programs at both organizations came to a halt. Together, partnering staff pivoted their proposal to anticipate potential impacts and modifications that would enable the valued program to be able to continue.

COVID-19’s impact on women and families suffering abuse have been significant since its onset. When Saanich staff reached out early on regarding its HeArts Together Community Art Project, the Transition House was a committed collaborator. The project filled a need they saw for the women they support, providing an opportunity for women (with support from VWTH counselors) to express themselves creatively and share their feelings and experiences with others while staying safely apart.

Then this summer, VWTH was once again successfully able to support “Healing Through the Arts.” The fall session exploring mixed media art, writing and spoken word wraps up this month.

“Women who have experienced trauma have found this arts program to be one of the most effective ways to begin their healing journey,” shares the Transition House’s Program Manager Sandy Lundmark. “I am always amazed at the heart-felt creative results coming from this program and women are lined up to attend again and again.”


Mental health awareness over the holiday season 

It’s ok to not be ok

The holidays are wonderful, but they can also be tricky too. Then let’s add a year with a global pandemic into the mix, and well…things can feel truly foreign.

You might feel like you’re at a crossroad in a way – stuck between adjusting to our new “normal” and also feeling like you’re running out of steam and have hit a wall, and that’s ok!

It’s ok not to be meeting all of your goals or be sparkling or creative or always present. Right now, if you can meet your obligations and be kind to your loved ones, you get a gold star.

This is a marathon, and while sometimes it might feel like a crawl – we can do it.

Keep it real this holiday season

Whether it be at home or at work, your individual coping strategies are unique to you. We are all different with different needs and strengths, but here are some things to consider.

Never let your battery run to zero. Make sure you take steps to recharge at around three or four and set it back to as close to ten as you can before you hit the ground running again.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Easier said than done, but just remember that everyone has their own challenges and someone else’s “perfect situation” could be far from perfect.

Get outside! We’re fortunate that we don’t have to battle arctic temperatures and blizzards that make us want to run away to Hawaii, so take advantage (insert shameless plug to visit one of our over 170 parks, safely of course).

Adjust holiday traditions

It’s so easy to focus on what we do right now, but many aspects of the holidays can still happen just as they always have. If you’re still feeling the holiday spirit, you can make this time of year just as special even while safely distanced. Here’s how.

  1. For those with children in their lives, many local photographers are offering virtual photos with Santa. Any hey, it’s a whole lot better than waiting in line at the mall, right?
  2. There are also some local options to check out holiday displays from your car. Entertainment while staying warm is a win-win!
  3. Go virtual and connect with your crew through technology. Or better yet, invite family or friends to join an online holiday toast, cooking date or awkward game of charades!
  4. Make all the treats. Now we have a legit excuse to bake holiday treats without a reason.
  5. Spread some joy: If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s how much the people in our lives mean to us, so go ahead and spread some happiness where you can.

Stay positive by getting excited about all the things you can still do and put your energy into them.

Happy holidays and take some time to recharge your batteries this season.



Leading Pedestrian Intervals

Did you know that Saanich has six intersections featuring a Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) that gives more priority to pedestrians? The first intersection to give the head start to pedestrians was Cedar Hill Cross Rd. at Braefoot Rd. in September of 2019.

Pedestrians at this intersection now receive their walk signal first before drivers get their green light. This gives people walking a head start which improves their visibility and in turn makes it safer. These changes were well received and we continued to make this change at five more intersections in January 2020 as part of a signal coordination project along Quadra St.


Community Services highlights

Despite the interruptions to vital community gatherings, Community Services has persisted in finding safe ways to keep folks connected and engaged.

  • Examples of this nimble programming include:
  • A re-engineered Moonfest that provided an outdoor, flow-through Lantern Festival that folks could enjoy in their COVID-safe pods.
  • New, small-scale “Music/Artist in the Community” program that created serendipitous enrichment in neighbourhood parks from June through October.
  • Despite losing the Flipside Teen Centre at Pearkes, Community Services has continued to provide programs to the vulnerable population in the Tillicum through community partners and nearby park sites.
  • Older adults received valuable COVID-19 information through the second issue of the new CONNECTIONS resource guide.
  • Veterans were not forgotten this year, as Community Services provided a slimmed down Remembrance Day. Because the public could not attend in person, a Facebook live stream allowed Saanich residents to attend virtually.


Saanich Recreation’s Kiddie Capers Preschool spreads some holiday cheer

Kiddie Capers and the Berwick seniors have had a wonderful relationship for several years, enjoying many activities together.

Recently, Kiddie Capers walked to the Berwick Seniors residence for a “window wave by”. A very emotional experience for both the Kiddie Capers instructors, Diana and Jo. They watched with excitement as the seniors and children interacted through the window. The seniors’ smiles were contagious, warm and heartbreaking as they held signs that said “happy holidays Kiddie Capers!” Windows began to open as the children sang Jingle Bells to their hearts’ content, vigorously ringing their bells! This is by far the BEST holiday gift we could ever give in these unprecedented COVID-19 times, and we will remember this forever.


Do you have a four-legged family member?

Then it’s time to renew your furry friend’s dog licence! We offer several convenient options for our residents:

  • pay for your dog licence online at and we’ll mail your tag
  • pay for your dog licence at Saanich Municipal Hall
  • pay for your dog licence via mail with cheques payable to District of Saanich
  • register a new dog by calling 250-475-5484

The licence is free if your dog has been spayed or neutered in the last 12 months or if you have a guide dog. You’ll receive a reduced fee by paying on or before February 1, 2021.
Please note we no longer process dog licences at our recreation centres.

Fun facts:

  • Saanich has 7,754 active dog licences.
  • You’re most likely to spot labs, labradoodles, and golden retrievers out and about in Saanich.
  • Charlie, Bella, Lucy, Molly and Luna are the top five most popular dog names followed closely by  Maggie, Max and Bailey.
  • Only six of our more than 170 parks have any restrictions on dogs. All other Saanich parks allow dogs that are on leash or under effective control.

We want to see photos of your furry friends out and about in #Saanich! Share with us on Facebook and Twitter.