Geoff Orr wants North Saanich council to communicate better and be more transparent with the community and its neighbours — and so he’s decided to run for mayor in the October civic election.
Orr made the announcement official on Thursday, May 3 at an event at Kildara Farms in North Saanich.
“There’s still energy, I have some value to contribute,” Orr said in an interview.
He said now that he has his wings under him — he spent the last term on council — he not only wishes to continue the public service, but step into the next role in municipal politics.
“It’s a big challenge. It’s a role you cannot take lightly.”
Orr added the challenge to the seat held by current Mayor Alice Finall will not be easy. Finall has been mayor in North Saanich since 2008 and was elected to the job three terms in a row (including one acclamation in 2011). She was first elected to council in 1993 and served in that capacity until 1999. She has not yet announced whether she will seek a fourth term as mayor. Orr said he’s spoken with Finall about his intent to run, and also shared the information with the current mayors of Sidney and Central Saanich.
Part of Orr’s reason to run, he continued, was some uncertainty over how the political landscape might unfold during this fall’s civic
election. Only one other person has declared for the mayor’s seat: local businessman Stephen Weller.
Orr said he’s ready for the job after navigating many issues over the four-year term — many of which will continue into the next council’s mandate. but one of the areas he said he wants to focus on, and take a different approach with, is how North Saanich interacts with its community and its neighbours. Orr said the job they do as a council is a public service and they have a responsibility to residents, industry and business owners to improve dialogue and be as transparent in their decision-making as possible. That includes with how North Saanich works with the Pauquachin and Tseycum First Nations and fostering better relationships with all of ther neighbours.
“That builds trust,” he said.
Hot-button issues like housing, agricultural land at the Sandown race track, a proposed library near the Panorama Recreation Centre and others, will continue past the October 20 election date.
“I don’t expect that my role will be to deviate significantly from the path council is already on, but there would be a focus of our attention on some different areas.”
Orr is a retired owner of a software firm and has a degree in mechanical engineering from UBC. He works, or has worked, with a variety of local organizations, in addition to his council duties, such as Peninsula Streams, Property Responsibility on the Waterfront (PROW), the North Saanich Residents Association, Peninsula Minor Hockey and the Saanich Peninsula Water and Wastewater Commission.