Proud to get top marks from the Saanich Civic League

A Saanich citizens group hopes its just released report card will serve as a benchmark for voters in the Nov. 19 municipal election.

The Saanich Civic League’s report, released yesterday, analyzes 20 motions Saanich council voted on over the past three-year term.

The report scores each of the nine-member council on whether their decision aligns with the civic league’s values.

“We look for when council was making a new decision. How did that new decision fit with these values?” said spokesperson Don Anderson. “When they had to face a new issue, how did they respond to that? How did that align with what people in Saanich want to see their council doing?”

The councillors most attuned to the league’s values are Vic Derman and Dean Murdock.

The lowest scorers were Coun. Wayne Hunter, who isn’t seeking re-election, and Mayor Frank Leonard.

Among the values the league considered important are leadership in combatting climate change, and support for local agriculture, local markets and food supply.

“You really only hear about (council) when they make a big decision, but there’s a whole bunch of other things (they vote on),” Anderson said. “(The council voting record report is) an attempt to get people talking about what council does, the kinds of decisions it makes and measuring those against what we have heard Saanich residents want.”

He acknowledged that the numbers aren’t completely objective.

Saanich council has voted on more than 1,000 items in the last term.

According to the Civic League, 92 per cent of the votes in 2010 were unanimous. However, the report card highlights only 20 decisions that show a disproportionate amount of split votes over three years.
Civic league releases council report card
Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

“They were quite selective (during the 2008 election) of what they chose to share,” Mayor Leonard said Monday, prior to seeing this year’s version of the report card.

“I think anything that tries to represent us as being split or divided on significant issues is not being genuine.”

Unanimous decisions on more than 90 per cent of votes – including what Leonard calls successes such as the acquisition of lands, consent for backyard chickens and support for light-rail on the Douglas Street corridor – is a better way to grade council. “It’s the outcomes that matter.”

Mayoral candidate David Cubberley​ called the voting record “useful” because the incumbent candidates “shouldn’t be afraid of how they voted.”

“I think it’s helpful to have that shown to the public. Hopefully (the Civic League has) worked hard to make it representative so it’s fair,” Cubberley said.

And while the eight-person Civic League says it is non-partisan, at least one member is also working on an election campaign – former councillor Carol Pickup, who hopes to help get Cubberley elected.

“We know that some of our executives may support particular candidates, but they don’t do it on Saanich Civic League time,” said Civic League chair Christine McLaren, stressing that the league is non-partisan.

For more information on the Saanich Civic League or to see complete details on the council voting record, visit saanichcivicleague.ca.