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

Oak Bay youth give teens a voice, explore homelessness, talk to seniors for podcasts

Teens pleased as teacher adds podcast creation to English 12 class

Canadian National Standup Paddleboard races in Sidney this weekend

Three day event on the Sidney waterfront, May 25 to 27

Petition puts Haro Woods cyclists on notice

Locals say Saanich sends the wrong message by allowing cyclists in Haro Woods

City of Victoria looking for mural artists to work in Rock Bay

Concrete Canvas project aims to help beautify industrial neighbourhood later this summer

UPDATE: Missing senior Elsie Habbick has been found

The Victoria senior was reported missing Monday afternoon

VIDEO: Tide pool school draws a crowd to explore seaside in Oak Bay

Friends of Uplands Park hosted the inter-tidal exploration at Cattle Point on… Continue reading

Saanich and Victoria councils to meet next month to discuss steps to amalgamation

Issues likely to loom large in the June 26 meeting include the perceived clarity of the question

UBC professor claims victory at B.C. car race

A physics engineering professor had the fastest time during Kelowna hill climb race

Photo gallery: Saanich athletes at Island track and field championships

Sarah Kedves jumps to most inspirational award at track and field championships

MP Karina Gould back to Hill with baby Oliver for electoral reform bill

Gould brought Oliver to work with her as she resumed duties as democratic institutions minister

VIDEO: Footage of 2 shrieking lynx posted by Canadians goes viral

The videos — one shot by a man and his girlfriend — show two lynx sitting face-to-face, shrieking

Teen must repay $37M for starting Oregon wildfire

A teenager who started a major wildfire in Oregon has been ordered to pay restitution

UPDATE: Woman dies in ocean accident near Tofino hours before daughter’s wedding

“We are so thankful to everyone who helped our mom.”

Canada’s G7 goal on development: luring private capital to poor nations

G7 finance and international development ministers convene in British Columbia next week

Most Read