Causton winds down mayoral duties

Awkward farewell speech at council

Christopher Causton presided over his last Oak Bay council meeting Monday night before hanging up his mayor’s hat to launch his federal election campaign.

About halfway through the meeting, in between discussions on the Greater Victoria Public Library’s budget and development variance permits, Causton finally addressed the elephant in the room, that is, the leave of absence he is taking from municipal politics.

He advised council on three big issues that will require their attention, including the sale of Oak Bay Lodge land, twinning the Uplands sewer and the new Oak Bay secondary school.

Despite plans to concentrate on vying for a federal political seat in the May 2 election, Causton said he is proceeding with three final items in his mayoral appointment book.

“There are some issues that I had agreed that I would deal with, and because I made that commitment, I am going to honour that commitment,” he said.

Those included hosting a mayor’s luncheon the following day and welcoming Grade 1 and 2 Willows elementary students to municipal hall next week.

“I will try and explain federal elections without any politics at all,” Causton said, prompting chuckles from his council colleagues.

His two-year term as president of the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities comes to an end at an annual general meeting and convention on April 8, 9 and 10. Causton said he tried to arrange for Premier Christy Clark to attend, but was unsuccessful.

Causton has made it clear that no matter the results of the federal election, he won’t seek a sixth term as mayor in the November municipal election.

“There’s been a lot of things councils and I have been involved with, which I think have greatly improved Oak Bay and if I wasn’t successful (in a federal political campaign), in November I could leave with my head high,” he said.

“I’m proud of my record and I think sometimes it’s time to move on. Right now I am looking to move to the federal level where I can use all that experience.”

Coun. Hazel Braithwaite was the only councillor to address Causton’s federal aspirations, wishing him all the best in his endeavor.

Coun. Pam Copley takes over as acting mayor for April and Braithwaite is scheduled to take on the role in May.

The acting mayor role becomes more of an issue should Causton win, as he would not return for the final six months of the civic term. He has said he will serve out the rest of the term should he not be elected to Parliament.