Stephen Weller. (Steven Heywood/News Staff)

UPDATE: Challenger to North Saanich mayor’s seat emerges

Businessman Stephen Weller promoting measured growth over the long term

(Updated to correct population comments)

A challenger for the mayor’s seat in North Saanich has emerged early in the new year, months before the 2018 civic elections on October 20 in B.C.

Businessman Stephen Weller has announced he plans on running for mayor of the District of North Saanich, following weeks of testing the waters informally throughout the community.

Weller owns a variety of commercial properties in Sidney and sold a pair of auto body businesses last year. At 46 and with a 10-year-old child in school in North Saanich, Weller said he has been talking about local politics for years and decided this year’s election was the right time for him to seek the mayor’s chair.

North Saanich’s current mayor is Alice Finall, who has held the position for three consecutive terms, starting in 2008. She was also a councillor from 1993 to 1999. Finall has not yet decided if she will seek a fourth term of office.

Weller told the PNR he feels he has a good chance to unseat Finall, citing changing demographics in the community.

He said there needs to be more discussion about how the community can support younger people who, for the most part, are doing the catering. Weller added he has also served the older population of North Saanich for around 20 years, through his various businesses — so he expects blancing the older vote with the younger, should not be a problem when election day comes.

“The demographics of North Saanich are changing,” he said. “It has always been a great place to raise your kids.”

That doesn’t mean he wants to see more residential development in North Saanich. Weller said he would like to see improvement in how the municipality supports businesses that serve the community.

“My own businesses grew five, six, seven per cent a year,” he said, “and I learned to manage growth along the way. There needs to be a long-term focus and planning.”

Weller added he doesn’t necessarily envision large growth spots within North Saanich, but wants to see council manage growth by creating more options for commercial development, which in turn could lead to further housing options, such as smaller lot development and carriage houses on larger lots.

At the same time, he said North Saanich doesn’t have “to go crazy” on increasing density.

“North Saanich is significantly different than Sidney, for example.”

As well, Weller said he sees a need for North Saanich’s existing commercial areas to be better served by the District.

Weller said any growth has to be balanced with the District’s agricultural areas. Yet, even here, he’d like to see some growth.

There could be an increase in agricultural activity on the former Sandown race track land once the District decides what to do with the land. Yet Weller was critical of the deal, saying the District is now saddled with it, leaving people wondering what will be done there.

“What will it look like? what will North Saanich get from it in the long term? I don’t want it to become a white whale.”

Weller said he thought Sandown was North Saanich’s opportunity to get some mixed development — commercial and residential growth/

“It was an opportunity to add a commercial centre for North Saanich, which we don’t have.”

The District entered a deal to maintain 80 acres of the land as agricultural property and have conducted studies to determine what to do with it. The remaining 12 acres was retained by the owners as a commercial site. Canadian Tire has already spoken for a portion of that area along MacDonald Park Road.

The municipal election takes place on Oct. 20, 2018.



editor@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Stephen Weller opened a private gym in Sidney in 2014. He has sold some of his other businesses and is planning on running for mayor in North Saanich this year. (Steven Heywood/News Staff File)

Just Posted

VIDEO: Victoria writer and filmmaker turns her mental illness into mental strength

Mental illness robs Victoria woman of happiness from age 10

Physician assistants say they can help B.C. health care woes

Reducing wait times, improving doctor efficiency is the goal

Additional data from Point-in-Time survey finds most homeless people are local

Most homeless people are young men between the ages of 18 and 24

Two people sent to hospital in View Royal crash

Crash on Island Highway near Six Mile Road snarled the evening commute

Greater Victoria beach clean up recovers 655 pounds of garbage

Cigarette butts, straws discarded at alarming rates on local beaches

VIDEO: How to roll a joint

The cannabis connoisseur shares his secrets to rolling the perfect joint

Advance voting begins Oct. 10 in Greater Victoria

The polls open at 8 a.m. for the 2018 municipal election with the general election taking place Oct. 20

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

Boeser tallies in OT as Canucks beat Penguins 3-2

Vancouver wins without star rookie Pettersson

Mayor of Kamloops says ‘history has been made’ with vote on B.C.’s lone pot shop

The store to be run by the province in B.C.’s Interior is opening Wednesday as pot sales become legal across Canada

New bus route to ‘replace’ Greyhound along Trans-Canada Highway

Rider Express Transportation says they will soon begin a bus service from Winnipeg to Vancouver

U.S. pot firm urges Trump to deny Canadian producers ‘competitive advantage’

The challenge for U.S. firms lies in the fact that while recreational cannabis is legal in nine states and medicinal pot in 22 others, it remains illegal under federal law

Government says imprisoned Canadian terror suspects must face consequences

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale showed little sympathy Tuesday for such individuals who now want to return to Canada

How rules for inmate segregation in Canada will change under Bill C-83

Federal government proposing changes to rules around inmates in federal correctional institutions

Most Read