Category Archives: Issues and Ideas

Saanich should join the Call for Energy & Climate in Building Sector



The signing of the historic Paris Agreement in December 2015 is an opportunity for renewed momentum on climate action globally, nationally and right here at home. As the Province prepares its newClimate Leadership Plan – expected this Spring – local government and building sector stakeholders around the province are calling for Action on Energy and Climate in the Building Sector.

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, Urban Development Institute Pacific Region, and Pembina Institute spearheaded the Call for Action on Energy and Climate in the Building Sector. Over 75 companies, organizations and local governments have thrown their support behind a detailed statement urging the province to take action to reduce carbon emissions from homes and buildings.

Saanich has a proud history of taking action on Climate Change, including our very own Climate Action Plan and Climate Adaptation Plan. As local governments, we are committed to the sustainability of our communities. We engage our citizens and staff to reduce emissions, we foster local economic development, and we prepare for a changing climate.

The complete text of the Call for Action on Energy and Climate in the Building Sector is below for your consideration and endorsement.


That Saanich join local governments and building sector stakeholder around the province by signing the Call for Action on Energy and Climate in the Building Sector.

Dean Murdock

Saanich Councillor

Chair, Environment & Natural Areas Advisory Committee


We support the B.C. government’s commitment to implement a new Climate Plan.

We expect the plan will include ambitious new actions that lead to:

  • a strong economy with opportunities for all British Columbians
  • a province powered by clean energy
  • a more equitable society
  • cleaner air and water supporting healthy communities and ecosystems
  • protection from a changing climate.

We can’t afford to delay. Now is the time to lead the transition to a clean energy economy.

In this transition, the built environment offers unique opportunities for carbon reductions and economic growth.

As energy and building professionals, trades and businesses, we provide world class products and services to meet customer needs, satisfy regulations and compete in the global marketplace.  We are employers, taxpayers, community partners, and leaders in our field.

As local governments, we are committed to the sustainability of our communities. We engage our citizens and staff to reduce emissions, we foster local economic development, and we prepare for a changing climate.

Together, we are ready to transition to a resilient and efficient building sector. We call on the B.C. government to:

  • Set a clear target for the end performance goal for new buildings — for example, for new buildings to be net-zero energy ready by 2030 — and work with stakeholders to develop, within six months of the release of the Plan, a roadmap clarifying the timeline and approach to meet this goal
  • Lead by example by requiring that all new planned public buildings meet this goal starting in 2016, and by setting up an aggressive renovation program for existing public buildings to reduce their carbon emissions by half in the next decade
  • Launch a multi-year incentive program to accelerate market transformation for high performance new construction and deep retrofits, prioritizing affordable housing and high visibility projects
  • Develop financing mechanisms to redistribute incremental costs, e.g. financing through property taxes or utility bills, or loans to strata
  • Ensure the construction and real estate industry, the government and the public have access to energy performance data to monitor progress and provide feedback on policies and behaviour
  • Support integrated land use and transportation planning to encourage location efficient development
  • Strengthen the price signal for efficiency and conservation through rates and carbon pricing.
  • Support local governments and resource the Building Safety and Standards Branch to facilitate code changes, streamline approval of innovative solutions through variances or alternative solutions, decrease permitting times and increase code compliance.

By pursuing these opportunities, we can reduce our carbon footprint while saving money, creating local jobs, and opening export markets for B.C.-made components and designs. We can also ensure all British Columbians live and work in buildings that improve community health, happiness, and productivity.

Here’s our chance to stand up for the environment in Saanich!

Hello friends,


We have a chance to stand up for environmental rights in Saanich! On Monday night, your Council will vote on a resolution for a right to healthy environment. Here’s your chance to let Mayor and council know you want to see the resolution passed in Saanich (the wording is included below).

What can I do?

  • Write to Mayor and Council here: Urge Council to pass a resolution in support of the Right to a Healthy Environment
  • Show your support by attending the meeting in the Council Chamber, 770 Vernon Aveon January 26th at 7:30pm
  • Tell Mayor and Council directly about what environmental rights mean to you, your family, and friends. Each person can speak for 5 minutes – there is no need to register beforehand.

Vancouver Island communities like Victoria, Duncan, and Ladysmith have passed similar resolutions on environmental rights. We can make a difference right here in Saanich by standing up for clean air, fresh water, and safe food. Let’s make sure Saanich remains on the leading edge of sustainability.




Dean Murdock


Saanich Councillor, and

Chair, Saanich Environment and Natural Areas Committee



Wording of the resolution:

WHEREAS the David Suzuki Foundation Blue Dot Tour has inspired many Canadians to request that the right to a healthy environment be enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedom through support of the following motion;

AND WHEREAS the District of Saanich understands that people are part of the environment, and that a healthy environment is inextricably linked to the well-being of our community;

AND WHEREAS the Saanich Official Community Plan provides a strong policy foundation to pursue actions and initiatives that contribute toward a healthy environment;

AND WHERESAS Saanich has the opportunity to endorse the Declaration of the Right to a Healthy Environment, joining other Canadian cities in re-affirming our commitment to social, environmental and economic sustainability;


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT The District of Saanich endorses the following declaration in principle and forwards it to the next Committee of the Whole to allow for public in-put.

“All people have the right to live in a healthy environment, including:

The right to breathe clean air;

The right to drink clean water;

The right to consume safe food;

The right to access nature;

The right to know about pollutants and contaminants released into the local environment;

The right to participate in decision-making that will affect the environment.


The District of Saanich has the responsibility, within its jurisdiction, to respect, protect, fulfill and promote these rights.

The district of Saanich will apply the precautionary principle: where threats of serious or irreversible damage to human health or the environment exist, Saanich will take cost effective measures to prevent the degradation of the environment and protect the health of its citizens. Lack of full scientific certainty shall not be viewed as sufficient reason for Saanich to postpone such measures.

Saanich shall apply full cost accounting; when evaluating reasonably foreseeable costs of proposed  actions and alternatives, Saanich will consider costs to human health and the environment.

By December 31, 2015, Saanich will consider objectives, targets, timelines and actions within its jurisdiction to fulfill residents’ rights to a healthy environment, including options to:

Ensure equitable distribution of environmental benefits and burdens within the municipality;

Ensure infrastructure and development projects protect the environment, including air quality;

Address Climate Change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and implementing adaptation measures;

Responsibly increase density;

Prioritize walking, cycling and public transit as preferred modes of transportation;

Ensure adequate infrastructure for the provision of safe and accessible drinking water;

Promote the availability of safe foods;

Reduce solid waste and promote recycling and composting;

Establish and maintain accessible green spaces in all residential neighbourhoods;

The District of Saanich shall review these objectives, targets, timelines and actions every five years, and evaluate progress towards fulfilling this declaration.

The District of Saanich will consult residents as part of this process.”


AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT Council forward this resolution to the Annual Meeting of the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, requesting favourable consideration by delegates at the 2015 annual meetings of these Associations.image

Murdock files nomination papers; says election is about ‘affordability’

Re-Elect Sign

For Immediate Release – October 9, 2014

Murdock files nomination papers; says election is about ‘affordability’

Saanich – The municipal election race officially gets underway this week with candidate nominations. This afternoon Councillor Dean Murdock filed his papers for re-election to a third-term on Saanich Council and the CRD Board.

Murdock says a priority for him is affordability. “Our region is a desirable place to live. More and more people want to live here, but we’re seeing families struggle with the costs of putting a roof over their heads and food on the table.”

Murdock points to Council’s recent change to permit secondary suites as a positive step, but wants to see investment in housing that is affordable for all families. “Let’s work with builders to get a mix of housing options. When families can afford to settle in our community, they invest in housing, send their kids to local schools, and buy local products and services. Our region’s future depends on affordability for families.”

He says the rising cost of food can eventually be reversed by preserving farmland and supporting local farmers. “Keeping farmland for farming is our best food security. Let’s create a viable marketplace to keep farmers in business. We can put markets in places where people can get access to the foods our local growers are selling. That keeps dollars in the local economy.”

The two-term Councillor spent last summer on a sidewalk study tour and is calling for a 10-year plan for sidewalk priority construction. “Building a Walkable Saanich isn’t about sidewalks. It’s about building community.”

Murdock chairs Saanich’s Environment & Natural Areas Committee and is a member of the Greater Victoria Library Board. He is Vice Chair of the CRD Water Supply Commission.

Murdock was first elected to Saanich Council in 2008 and re-elected in 2011. He is a Program manager at the BC Ministry of Health. He has two young children and a beagle named Bella.

In the coming weeks, Murdock will release his full campaign platform, including transportation, affordable housing, food security, and environmental leadership as priority initiatives.

Candidate nominations close on October 10. Municipal elections are November 15.


Media Contact: Dean Murdock — Phone: 250.889.0242; Email:

Saanich eyes green light for secondary suites


Saanich urged to allow secondary suites north of McKenzie

Bill Cleverley / Times Colonist
September 10, 201

Secondary suites could soon be legal in Saanich north of McKenzie Avenue.

After extensive public consultation, Saanich staff are recommending that secondary suites be legalized in much of the municipality north of McKenzie Avenue, as was done south of McKenzie about four years ago. Broadmead, rural Saanich outside the Urban Containment Boundary and the Blenkinsop Valley outside the Urban Containment Boundary would be excluded.

“The staff are recommending pretty much what we did south of McKenzie,” Mayor Frank Leonard said.

The staff report will go to councillors sitting as a committee of the whole on Monday.

If councillors agree, the recommendation will go to public hearing.

Leonard did not want to predict what council might do, but noted one of council’s strategic objectives is to improve affordability of both house buying and rental accommodation. Secondary suites hit both those buttons.

“I expect there’s going to be some concerns and objections, but it could possibly be that council believes it’s in the greater good to proceed,” he said.

Coun. Dean Murdock said he expects the recommendation to go to public hearing, noting that council’s decision to legalize suites south of McKenzie was unanimous.

“The staff recommendation says that the conditions for north of McKenzie would be exactly the same as south of McKenzie,” he said.

“As we found the last time, the community is largely supportive of moving forward on permitting secondary suites. In my view, I think that this is probably going to be successful and move forward to public hearing and get the bylaw amended to permit suites.”

Leonard recused himself from the vote legalizing suites south of McKenzie because of his wife’s property holdings.

“Fortunately, she doesn’t own anything north of McKenzie, so I can take part,” he said.

Saanich already has an estimated 9,000 secondary suites, which translates into one in three single family dwellings having a suite, the staff report says.

Secondary suites are typically on the more affordable end of the rental accommodation price scale and many homeowners rely on them to pay their mortgage, the report says.

“With the aging population, suites are now becoming a necessary means to supplement limited retirement incomes or act as housing for on-site caregivers for elderly and/or infirm homeowners.”

About 80 per cent of houses with secondary suites in Saanich are occupied by the owner, the report says.

Saanich looks at legal suites North of McKenzie


Council likely to approve legalizing suites north of McKenzie Avenue

September 12, 2014
Permits for secondary suites in houses north of McKenzie Avenue in Saanich will likely be legal by the end of the year,

Council is expected to approve the staff recommendations in a survey-based report on Monday, as Saanich staff have prepared a list of bylaws to regulate secondary suites north of McKenzie. The list mirrors that of the rules governing suite permits south of McKenzie, which were approved in 2010.

The move has been a long time coming for Coun. Dean Murdock, who’s been trumpeting secondary suite legalization during his time in public office.

“There’s an unofficial estimate of approximately 10,000 secondary suites in Saanich,” Murdock said. “We won’t get all of them legalized with a change of allowing suites, but we’re creating an environment to give some tenants and landlords comfort and confidence that they’re meeting the requirements and doing things above board.”

The most likely option to be approved on Monday echoes the same rules brought in for suites south of McKenzie in 2010, but there is an additional option to authorize permits for all suites in Saanich that meet the semi-strict requirements.

That last step, however, is unlikely to happen now or in the future, Murdock says, as the end goal is to increase densification and protect neighbouring farmlands. The neighbourhoods identified in Monday’s decision include North Quadra, Glanford and Strawberry Vale, as well as Gordon Head and Cordova Bay. Not included are Blenkinsop valley, Broadmead (because of a covenant) and rural Saanich areas.

Coun. Nicola Wade, also in favour of the staff recommendations to make permitted suites legal north of McKenzie, said the process has been wise and measured.

“It allows folks to stay in a home, and for those wanting to get a home in this market, it makes it a little more affordable,” she said.

With a focus on densification comes the provision that all legalized suites provide an additional, off-street parking spot for tenants to avoid an on-street crush.

“We’d like to see an increase in secondary suites that doesn’t necessitate a vehicle, but the reality is we’re not there yet,” Murdock said.

“Certainly we want to stay away from encouraging denser populations in farm and rural areas.”

The staff report also includes provisions to deal with suites in accessory buildings. Current bylaws limit a residential lot to two kitchens.

A proposed amendment would allow one of the kitchens to exist in an accessory building, but it’s an area that staff haven’t yet studied.

That idea would also conflict with the secondary suite bylaw that requires the property owner to live in one of the suites, in response to concerns from neighbourhood associations.

“I think a key issue is to make sure suites are not proliferating beyond the initial suite. It would need to be studied,” Wade said.

If approved, the legal suite bylaw amendments will be drawn up by staff and expected to return to council later this fall.

Saanich triples ALR dedication at Panama Flats

Saanich wants part of Panama Flats in agriculture reserve

Jeff Bell, Times Colonist

Panama Flats

In a rare step, Saanich council is trying to put land into the Agricultural Land Reserve instead of the usual practice of trying to take it out.

Just maintaining the existing amount of agriculturally designated land in B.C. is a common concern, but the Saanich plan calls for moving 14.5 hectares in Panama Flats to the ALR. An adjoining 8.5 hectares already has the classification.

The 14.5 hectares has been farmed for years but has never had ALR status.

“It was a somewhat historical event,” Saanich Coun. Dean Murdock said of this week’s public hearing vote to designate the parcel. “Local governments don’t often get the opportunity to add land to the Agricultural Land Reserve.”

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said he has never seen it in the municipality during his 28 years as a councillor and mayor, and doesn’t recall it happening in the capital region.

The decision rests with the Agricultural Land Commission.

“legitimate concerns about the potential impact of an active farm surrounded by a residential area.”

“Of course, that’s always a challenge that communities face, particularly in Saanich where we have this interface between agriculture and residential, more suburban communities.”

Association vice-president Marlene Todd said one issue is a fear that the change to ALR designation could result in Saanich losing control over how the land is used. Councillors said that won’t happen, “but I’m a bit skeptical about it,” she said.

Another concern is the affect the change could have on migratory birds, Todd said. “They said they’re going to designate a small area for them, but this is a very sensitive area as far as the migratory birds flying north. This is where they stop.”

Murdock said councillors feel owning the land will help them avoid problems.

“What council was convinced by is we’re going to continue to have control as the landowner over what goes on there, so we can make every effort to mitigate the impact of farming.”

The parcel up for ALR designation is part of 25 hectares Saanich bought at Panama Flats in 2011 for $2.4 million from Island Berry Co. The company’s plan to farm cranberries raised flooding concerns for the municipality.

“The intent at the time of purchase was clear,” Murdock said. “We wanted to protect the flood plain and preserve the farmland for food production.

“We’re now, I think, clearing a fairly significant hurdle in order to ensure that it’s protected in perpetuity for food production.”

One of the next steps in the plan is to seek expressions of interest for the land. One large farm or a number of smaller operations are possible, Murdock said. No farming is going on right now.

Murdock said the Saanich plan also calls for a perimeter walking trail in the area as well as restoration work on the Colquitz River.

Boosting engagement and participation by making voting more accessible

Saanich gets creative to woo more voters in fall election

July 16, 2014


The District of Saanich will be rolling out more options to increase voter turnout in November’s municipal election.

Council voted this week to reinstate mobile voting stations, which had been replaced by mail-in ballots in 2011. Both options will now be available in the fall, said Mayor Frank Leonard.

“[Staff] found that we had good results with the mail-in ballot, but where there had been better turnout with the mobile poll, it wasn’t there with the mail-in ballot,” Leonard said. “That’s why they’re going to do both.”

University of Victoria students and staff will also be able to vote on campus, thanks to a new advanced polling station.

“The campus draws students from all over the region, which makes municipal voting a bit complicated,” said Coun. Dean Murdock. “Victoria and Oak Bay are also going to have voting opportunities at UVic, so between the three municipalities, we will be able to help people find their home for voting.”

Students will need to identify themselves along with their address in order to vote, Murdock said.

“But unlike provincial or federal, you’re not restricted to a particular voting location.”

Murdock said Saanich wants to make voting as accessible as possible to its residents.

“If we can encourage people to get engaged and interested, and make it easy for them to cast a ballot, I think it’s important to do that,” he said.

Along those lines, Murdock said council also asked staff to look into putting voting stations at popular public places such as shopping centres and recreation centres.

“If it’s something Saanich can do to make [voting] more convenient, that’s always something we want to see go forward,” he said.

The municipal election takes place Nov. 15.

Happy Holidays

I thought I’d post a note of season’s greetings and why not share a few highlights from 2013 while I’m at it? Here’s a little bit about what I’ve been up to this year. Merry Christmas and best of the holiday season to you and your family!

Walkable Saanich – As you know, sidewalks and mobility continue to be major priorities for me. This summer I launched a sidewalk study tour. I have been visiting dozens of neighbourhoods all over Saanich to take a look at the walking environment. I asked your Council to develop a sidewalk strategy that would guide the construction of pedestrian infrastructure. While I’m disappointed that didn’t happen, I am inspired by your many emails and calls and will continue to be your advocate for a walkable Saanich.

Standing up for the ALR and farmland – I’m proud of Saanich’s long history of preserving farmland. When word came out that the Province was reviewing the Agricultural Land Reserve and the mandate of the Agricultural Land Commission, I asked Council to reaffirm its support for the ALR and call on the Province to consult on any potential changes. Thanks to your emails of support, Council unanimously agreed to write the responsible Ministers to ensure your voices were heard: leave the ALR alone!

Protecting our climate, environment and natural areas – This year I became the Chair of the Environment and Natural Areas Committee. As you may know, 2013 marked a 14% reduction in the District’s GHG emissions below 2007. That puts us well on our way to 50% by 2020. We’re also working on updating the Tree Preservation Bylaw, changes to Saanich’s home heating oil policies and the development of a Farmlands Trust.

In the books! – It is a great pleasure to be the new Saanich representative on the Greater Victoria Public Library board. I’m really looking forward to getting involved. I’ve had a life-long love of reading that started with trips to the library with my parents. My wife and I are happy to share that same experience with our two young kids. I hope that our libraries are a place where all families can experience the joy of reading.

What are your priorities for 2014? Send me an email or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter!

Wishing you all the very best in 2014.

Dean Murdock
Saanich Councillor