Saanich council byelection date confirmed for Sept. 23

Candidate nominations accepted Aug. 8 to 18

It’s official, Saanich residents will head to the polls on Sept. 23 to fill the seat left vacant since the death of Vic Derman.

Council heard a recommendation from staff to schedule the required byelection for that date on Monday. Advance voting will then take place on Sept. 13 and Sept. 18.

Staff estimated a byelection budget of $173,500.

Candidate nominations will be accepted from Tuesday, Aug. 8 at 9 a.m. until Friday, Aug. 18 at 4 p.m.

Three candidates — Nathalie Chambers, Rebecca Mersereau and Karen Harper — have already declared their candidacy for the open seat, which needs to be filled under existing legislation.

More are expected to join the race as the byelection draws near.

Both Chambers and Mersereau have actively linked their respective campaigns, in part, with the environmental focus shared by Derman, while Harper has said that her campaign will focus on municipal finances.

Chief administrative officer Paul Thorkelsson explained the decision to postpone the byelection until September earlier in the spring.

“The challenge that we face currently is that if we were to rush into appointing an chief election officer under statutory requirements for elections, we would fall on an early date in August,” Thorkelsson said at the time.

“Our recommendation to council is that a mid-summer [election] is not the most appropriate time to be holding a by-election.”

As a result, some, including Harper, were questioning the fact Nanaimo has squeezed in a byelection in a shorter time span than Saanich has, albeit under circumstances of a resignation rather than a death.

The byelection became necessary after the death of Derman on March 17, 2017. An advocate for sustainable policies and alternative forms of transportation, Derman had served on council since 2002. On Saturday, dozens attended the official dedication of Vic Derman Park, 3.29-hectare natural area with an open meadow and Garry oak stands next to Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary.

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com