Coun. Fred Haynes (left) and Mayor Richard Atwell (right), here appearing with Nagasaki nuclear holocaust survivor and prisoner of war Rudi Hoenson in August 2017, accused each other of lacking leadership during Monday’s council meeting. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Candidates for Saanich mayor clash over finances

Mayor Richard Atwell and Coun. Fred Haynes accused each other of lacking leadership during debate.

A short but sharp exchange between the two declared candidates for Saanich’s top political job preceded council’s decision to spend up to $200,000 towards the creation of a new budget process.

Mayor Richard Atwell and Coun. Fred Haynes accused each other of lacking leadership during the exchange, which erupted after Atwell said that he would be voting against the recommenation from staff to develop options for a four-year engagement cycle.

Atwell said staff should instead draw inspiration from the participatory budget planning process that the City of Victoria uses. It is readily accessible and has received praise from outsiders, including members of Saanich council, he said. “And it’s definitely cheap,” he said. “It’s definitely cheaper than $200,000.”

While the funding would come from Saanich’s strategic reserve fund, taxpayers would still be paying it, he said. “I would like to see our process improve, but I’m not going to spend $200,000, when we can just be looking next door, and working at a peer level, and copying an improved process – or one that is at least perceived as improved.”

Haynes then called a point of order to ask Atwell, why he had not raised these points before Monday’s meeting. “Why did you wait until council?” asked Haynes. “I don’t understand the process that you are in. You created the finance committee to exactly deal with these issues.”

Atwell tried to interject, but Haynes pressed on. “You had your time at the finance committee,” he said. “You raised none of this then, and then you ambushed the decision of that committee, and staff, and this council. This is poor leadership, Mr. Mayor.”

Atwell said he had time to think about how much money this process was going to cost. “There is a $200,000 cheaper solution right next door, and all we have [to do] is look at it, ” Atwell said. “And if you are criticizing me because of leadership, I think it is a lack of leadership on how we spend money, when we could be looking for another process that is close by.”

Responding to Haynes’ criticism that Atwell was undermining the committee, Atwell said it did not matter from where the idea originated. “Councillor, with respect, and I don’t think you have listened to me and heard what I have said, I don’t think this is a good use of taxpayers’ money. I think we can go next door and greatly improve the process. It doesn’t matter if it has come through the [finance] committee.”

Atwell said Saanich had considered creating such a process in the past following a committee recommendation in 2015, before turning it down because of costs. “I don’t know why there has been a Come-to-Jesus moment on spending the money now, when no one wanted to spend it in 2015.”

Council eventually approved the staff recommendation with Atwell opposed.

While efforts to improve the budget process date back to at least 2015, they gained steam with the final report of the Governance Review Citizens Advisory Committee , which lamented the lack of public input.

“We believe there should be more meaningful public engagement and education process at the start of the budget cycle,” it read.

Saanich has also received criticism for failing to integrate its budget with other planning documents in a more holistic manner.

Just Posted

Tent city campers prepare to leave Uplands Park

Vehicle access remains restricted at Cattle Point

A year in tent city: Timeline of Camp Namegans

Since September 2017, Victoria’s homeless camp has set up in more than 20 locations

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Oak Bay police ‘patient’ but ready to make arrests if campers don’t leave

Vehicle access restricted to waterfront segment of Uplands Park

Four-sailing wait at BC Ferries Swartz Bay terminal

Full vessels create long waits on Friday afternoon

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

How to get government cheques if Canada Post staff go on strike

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said members could go on rotating strikes as early as Monday

Anti-SOGI school trustee files defamation lawsuit against BCTF president

Barry Neufeld says Glen Hansman’s words caused him “indignity,” “personal harassment,” and “anxiety”

Ocean ‘blob’ returns to B.C.’s North Coast

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

Most Read