British Columbia

Saanich mayor-elect on young council, local economy and homelessness

Fred Haynes says Saanich was looking for a new approach, and he discussed how he plans to handle key issues in a conversation with All Points West host Robyn Burns.

Series of tent cities have created friction in district

Fred Haynes was elected mayor of Saanich on Saturday, defeating incumbent Richard Atwell. (Fred Haynes for Mayor of Saanich/Facebook)

The most populous municipality on Vancouver Island has a new mayor.

In Saanich, Fred Haynes defeated incumbent mayor Richard Atwell by more than 4,000 votes to scoop up the mayoral seat.

Saanich council, meanwhile, added some fresh faces — including a handful of self-identified millennial councillors.

Mayor-elect Haynes says Saanich was looking for a new approach, and he discussed how he plans to handle key issues in a conversation with All Points West host Robyn Burns.

Saanich council now has two young members, 19-year-old Ned Taylor and 23-year-old Zac de Vries. How will you guide the younger voice on council?

We embrace it and then we listen to it and then we work collaboratively to implement it.

People have cried out: Why aren't youth involved? Why aren't the young people involved in politics? Saanich has just said we want them involved and involved to the point where they've elected them to the highest civic office here, which is city council.

You've spoken about the "fresh approach" Saanich needs. What do you mean by that, specifically?

I'm advocating for a film studio in the area. Let's get our fair share of the federal and provincial government grants for our recreation facilities. Let's get a new ice arena, an ice hockey arena. Let's do more with our recreation fields.

That way, we will capture the new economy of sports tourism, recreation.

From left: Mayor-elect Fred Haynes, 19-year-old councillor-elect Ned Taylor and 23-year-old councillor-elect Zac de Vries. (CHEK News)

The Okanagan now has a film studio. They spent $10 million, $15 million to get it and now Netflix is there, putting in $100 million a year into that economy.

When we expand our tax base, we take pressure off of residential taxes. That helps make Saanich livable.

When people can live, work and play by us bringing in more appropriate housing density along our corridors and in our villages to make them vibrant, they get to live and work in the area and save transportation costs.

We have an urgent need to address daycare and family resources because there's more pressure now on young families.

What concrete solutions will you push for to deal with homelessness in Saanich?

Homelessness is a national and a provincial issue. This council, working with the Capital Regional District, raised $90 million to start providing housing for homeless. That takes time to build the housing.

In the short term, we've see the situation with the tent cities raising the profile of the need for housing. That is fully recognized. Saanich is working hard with the province, with B.C. Housing, on options for land.

At one point, more than 100 people were living in the Camp Namegans tent city in Saanich. (Liz Mcarthur/CBC)

That said, I do not support tent cities on Saanich parks. I don't think that's an appropriate form of addressing homelessness.

If we could have taken that money and applied it to homelessness instead of emergency and protective services, that would be a savings; but also, as we heard with the court injunction, the court injunction was issued on both the safety of the residents of the tent city but also the residents around the tent city.

This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity. To hear to the full interview, listen to the audio below:

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West

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