Wishing and hoping: West Shore Mayors talk 2015

Municipal hopes and personal plans for the holidays

With new faces on council and a brand new four-year term ahead, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton is looking forward to re-igniting some projects in 2015.

“One thing that’s likely to get underway this early spring is a community garden setup at city hall,” she said. “We’re hoping it will work in conjunction with the elementary school across the street. The city will be providing the space, and they’ll take care of the rest.”

Also in the works is a possible donation of computers to get the Goldstream Food Bank linked in to the Santas’ Anonymous online database and better provide for West Shore families.

“We have a number of computers that are being replaced over the next short while at the city, and there may be an opportunity to refurbish one or two to donate to the food bank.”

The wastewater management situation is obviously top of mind for the Colwood mayor, as it is for many West Shore residents, and transportation improvements are a constant refrain as well. There’s a new energy around the council table and lots to be done, she said. But Hamilton is hoping for at least a couple days of quiet to enjoy the holidays with her family.

“I’m looking forward to maybe squeezing in a couple of days of my feet up, and looking at the Christmas lights.”

 

Newly elected View Royal Mayor David Screech isn’t asking much for himself this Christmas, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a wish list for his town.

“To find a solution to the sewage treatment issues, that would certainly be my number one wish,” he said. “The best case scenario would be to find a good plan that fell within the existing budgets, that it was embraced and that it was found soon. That would be the ideal scenario.”

Though sewage is at the top of the list, Screech also has hopes to see the funding come through for improvements to the Island Highway, especially the Mackenzie Avenue/Admirals Road interchange – that busy intersection isn’t in View Royal, but “certainly affects us,” he said.

Aside from the one key issue of sewage, View Royal is a little bit like that person on your shopping list who already has everything, mused Screech.

“There are so many good things going on. I feel that we’re very fortunate in terms of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the last few years.”

 

John Ranns’ hopes for 2015 aren’t much different than this year or likely future ones.

The newly re-elected longtime mayor of Metchosin said his municipality’s rural lifestyle is great how it is and his mandate is is all about staying the course.

“The more development occurs around us, the more the people who enjoy this lifestyle enjoy what it is,” he said. “It’s a community very high on volunteering, very high on community pride and very high on determination to preserve and protect this lifestyle and it is my job that I nurture that.”

The lifelong Metchosin resident of 67 years said the district is in good shape, with no debt, reserves in their coffers and the ability to pay in full as they move forward on municipal projects – an enviable position for any municipality.

Improvements to both Metchosin and William Head roads are on the radar, but could be the last two major road infrastructure projects the municipality will consider in the near future.

A bike loop around Rocky Point, Kangaroo, Lindholm and Happy Valley roads that will allow cycling without crossing traffic is on council’s to-do list as well.

Even in the face of the ‘A’ word, council will keep constant vigil on protecting their way of life, Ranns said.

“One of the most significant things happening is the renewal of amalgamation. You cannot amalgamate a rural body into an urban one – rural gets eroded, it’s a given,” he said.

“No one says they are going to rip down the condos and put farms up, they don’t have to worry about that, but we have to worry about (the opposite) in the rural community. We have to always be on guard to protect the rural.”

 

Being mayor of the fastest-growing community in B.C. doesn’t leave one a whole lot of free time.

Langford’s Stew Young plans to do his best, however, to take advantage of those rare opportunities to relax in 2015.

“I’d like to do a little more salmon fishing,” he says, adding his favourite spot is off Beechey Head near East Sooke. “I don’t really golf, but I like watching sports and going fishing.”

He’ll be front and centre at Westhills Stadium in Langford next April when 12 of the best women’s sevens rugby national teams, host Canada included, are here for IRB Women’s Sevens World Series matches. It’s a run-up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Young likes to get down to Cabo San Lucas for up to two weeks during the year to relax. While he’s out of town, he’s never away from his phone.

“I like to stay connected, I enjoy that,” he says.

When in Mexico, he checks in with the folks running a charter boat donated by Alpine to allow the locals to earn revenue and provide employment through offering whale watching and fishing tours.

Having sold his souped-up 1964 Chevy Impala, the hot rod enthusiast’s next project is a 1969 Chevelle SS small-block, similar to the 1970 Chevelle owned by his son, Stew Jr. “That’ll be a driver,” dad says of the project, which he expects to be completed sometime next summer.

On the work front, the mayor’s busy political career has seen the Alpine Group CEO leave the day-to-day running of its various divisions to his “great managers and staff,” who include his children.

The multi-faceted company, like most businesses, continues to work its way out of the recession, he says, and is branching out with such new revenue sources as a marine sales and service outlet in Langford and a soil sales division.

With plenty of projects on the go in Langford, Young is excited about the coming year in the city, with such things as the new Belmont secondary, the new swimming pool and YM-YWCA near Westhills, mountain bike facilities on Bear Mountain and various residential projects all due for completion in 2015.

“With everyone back on board (councillors), we’re full steam ahead,” he said. “I hope we’ll be out of the blocks faster than maybe some of the other areas.”

 

Ken Williams is sworn in and ready for a fruitful 2015.

The film and TV music composer, who in December took the reins of the rural community from Jane Mendum who stepped down after two terms, looks forward to another prosperous year in the Highlands and across the region.

“My hopes for our country is to improve the economy,” Williams said. “And my goal is to ensure the continuity of fairness, respect and evenhandedness that Highlanders have come to appreciate from their local government.”

The opening of the east fire hall in April and the new community hall, which awaits finishing touches on the stage and the arrival of new furniture, are two dates he patiently awaits as 2014 comes to a close.

With 2015 around the corner, the mayor said groundwater protection and the complex issue of secondary accommodation are at the top of his to-do list.

“Most of my goals have to do with my new role,” he said. “I’m excited about being mayor and (want to) do everything to lead the people along with council … in making great decisions,” he said. “(We will) continue building our resilient rural Highlands and hopefully everyone in the region will realize their dreams.”

-with files from Don Descoteau, Arnold Lim and Angela Cowan

editor@goldstreamgazette.com