Incumbent Carol Hamilton and challenger Robin Stanbridge face off for the mayor's job in Colwood.

COLWOOD VOTES: Incumbent mayor vs. political neophyte

Hamilton seeks to continue the work, Stanbridge wants to shake up city hall

Colwood’s resident mayoral candidates are in stark contrast for the way they look at the running of a municipal government.

Incumbent Carol Hamilton, with one term as mayor under her belt, is anxious to continue helping hone the inner workings of city hall and build on her council’s accomplishments of the past three years. She lists among them the shepherding through a new strategic economic development plan and breaking away from the Capital Regional District’s sewage treatment debacle to pursue a separate solution for Colwood.

Challenger Robin Stanbridge readily admits his political inexperience, but is prepared to fight the election based on his desire to change the system of government to one closer to the system of “direct democracy.”

“I’m not going to compete with Carol Hamilton for the position of a normal mayor,” he said during an interview inside Royal Bay Bakery, not far from his Portsmouth Drive home. “The loudest way to make a statement (for change) is to elect someone who isn’t a politician.”

Clearly aware and perhaps even a bit sensitive to comments from the community about “stalled developments and half-built centres,” Hamilton defended the current administration.

“I will say that those (development scenarios) are not council-orchestrated failures or involvement. We don’t control the background of those situations that lead into things,” she said over coffee in her family room, decorated with sports memorabilia.

“All we can do is remain supportive and open to dealing with whoever’s coming along to complete the project.”

While the failure of the Capital City Centre project at Colwood Corners led to plenty of community finger-pointing at council, its sale is expected to be completed later this year. It’s one of a number of developments that are helping make this an “exciting time” for the city and its residents, she said.

Hamilton listed such others as the initial 100-home phase for the Royal Bay development on the gravel pit, the Westridge rental/commercial development and Holiday Inn Express on Wale Road, and the opening of Denny’s in the former White Spot on Island Highway as signs that Colwood is open for business.

Stanbridge, a designer by trade and university educated in fine arts and philosophy, calls himself a creative person who is looking for a more “elegant solution” to the running of government. Among his ideas is involving residents more in problem solving, rather than spending money on consultants or hiring more staff, and calling on people with expertise in certain areas to contribute their time and knowledge in return for a reduction in their property tax.

A tech savvy individual who owns a handful of cell phones, he envisions expanding web-based connections with residents so they can readily access academic information on issues of importance to the municipality.

Speaking of which, Stanbridge touts an initiative called zero sewage discharge that would, he said, eliminate the need to discharge any liquid into the ocean and eliminate pharmaceuticals from the waste stream.

“My idea is to take the leftover savings from the sewage budget and build an underwater marine viewing area so people can begin to celebrate and enjoy the marine richness of this area,” he said.

Hamilton has been closely following the actions of the Town of Sechelt in creating a sewage treatment system and looks forward to working with other “west side” municipalities on the merits of building a treatment system that would service Langford, Colwood, View Royal and Esquimalt.

The previous idea for a regionwide system went round and round with little real progress, she says. “I’ve sat at that board for the last three years and seen us not gain any headway.”

Voters won’t see any lawn signs with Stanbridge’s name on them sprinkled around the city, nor will they find his photo or campaign platform listed in any advertising – he has vowed not to spend any money on his campaign nor accept any donations. He is making himself available for any media interview requests, however, and attending public meetings to discuss his beliefs.

David Shebib of Saanich is the third name on the ballot for mayor of Colwood, but as published previously in the Gazette, he is running in all 13 municipalities.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com