Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your family, and best wishes in 2013!

I thought I’d take a moment to share a few highlights from this busy year. I look forward to new challenges in 2013. I welcome your feedback on the priority initiatives you’d like see in the New Year.

I am thrilled with the success of the Sustainable Saanich Food Fest – a new event the Healthy Saanich Advisory Committee cooked up this year to celebrate and promote local food. In September, local growers teamed up with staff for the event at the municipal hall next to the Lochside Trail. We had lots of people stop by and I am hopeful we will see it turn into an annual event.

Also on the local food front, we’re giving preference to local food producers when buying food for events and Saanich recreation centres with the newly-adopted Local Food Procurement Policy. We also took at look at genetically modified seed crops and their potential health and environmental impacts. Council voted to oppose GMOs and asked Ottawa for mandatory labelling on all food products. I’m looking forward to the launch of the Saanich Food Security Task Force. The Task Force will look at new initiatives to buy and grow food right here in the community.

Citizen engagement and participation remains an important priority for me. Watch for a tuned up budget process in 2013 with more accessible information and new ways to engage and provide feedback. Staff will roll out a new a public participation, communications and education policy in the New Year. I am hopeful that the new policy will open up new ways of communicating and engaging on projects and initiatives.

Your Council continues to work across municipal boundaries. This year we held two joint meetings with Victoria City Council to discuss Transportation and Climate Adaptation. Our two jurisdictions have teamed up to develop an action plan for the Douglas Corridor and prepare a model bylaw for sea-level rise due to a changing climate.

Finally, it’s been my great pleasure to take on a larger role at the regional level as Vice-Chair of the Regional Water Supply Commission this year. We’re blessed with an abundant supply of some of the world’s best water. That’s thanks, in part, to the foresight of our elected representatives, who sat in the chair before me. I hope to continue their great work and ensure that we all enjoy high quality, affordable drinking water for many years to come.

What are your priorities for 2013? Send me a note or talk about it on Facebook and Twitter!

Best of the Season to you and your family and a Happy New Year.

Dean Murdock
Saanich Councillor