Karen Harper to be sworn in as new councillor Monday

Karen Harper won’t have much time to reflect after she becomes Saanich’s newest council members.

She will take the oath of office, then take her seat next to the left of Mayor Richard Atwell, the seat assigned to the most junior councillor, as council meets to consider an agenda that includes a presentation from the board overseeing the region’s controversial sewage treatment project.

Twenty-four hours later, council will reconvene to receive public input into the controversial Doumac development.

Both evenings promise to be long and contentious, and the question arises: does Harper have any regrets about her choice? “No,” she says, with a laugh. “I have a good sense of what it’s like.”

Harper won last month won the byelection to fill the seat left vacant since the death of Vic Derman by 102 votes ahead of Rebecca Mersereau on a platform that calls for greater financial accountability, reworked local area plans, and abolishing the controversial Environmental Development Permit Area (EDPA).

A teacher by academic training, Harper joins council with a professional background in financial management. She has served as treasurer for the Camosun Community Association, and as a director of Amalgamation Yes, a self-described non-partisan, non-profit organization that promotes more effective and accountable government by reforming regional governance. This background has made Harper a familiar figure at council meetings. By her own accounts, Harper has attended three-quarters of council meetings since 2015 as an observer, and all but one meeting about the bylaw, which she would like to see abolished.

Harper, in other words, will have a working knowledge of the issues will confront her. This said, it is one thing to watch council from the audience, another to join the body responsible for a municipality of more than 110,000 individuals. Accordingly, Harper will have received several briefings from District staff, before she takes her seat.

Harper sounds realistically about what she is able to achieve, noting that she is just one voice on council. This said, Harper also sounds deeply committed, when she promises to work with all councillors on issues.

“I have positions, but you can’t realize them, unless you get support,” she says.

Harper joins council against the looming backdrop of next year’s general municipal election and tensions between Mayor Richard Atwell and the rest of council over the new contract for Chief Constable Robert Downie, Saanich’s top cop.

Harper says her focus will be on policy, not personalities.

“We are there to do the business of Saanich on behalf of Saanich and that’s what I’m going to focus on,” she said.

Just Posted

Input needed for View Royal playground

Ideas include ziplines, swings and net climbers

Highlands seeks public input on secondary suites

Open house to take place sometime in the summer

Canada Junior Development team qualifies for World Cup in Japan

Nolan Thoroughgood finished the tourney fifth overall for Canada

Elements Casino offers space, resources to charities and community groups

New Platinum Room will be available free of charge

Get your smile on, Free Smile Day is coming up

Two dental clinics in View Royal and Sooke are offering free services on Monday

LOCAL FLAVOUR: Taking the sting out of nourishing nettles

Linda Geggie For the Saanich News When you think of nettles you… Continue reading

Final week for ALR input

Public consultation process closes April 30

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Central Saanich, Tsawout taking part in reconciliation ceremony

Blanket event Monday to help foster mutual trust and respect

Ballet Victoria soirée fundraiser a prelude to final show of season

Company winds up its 15th season in the city with Peter Pan next month

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

B.C. VIEWS: Eliminating efficiency for farm workers

Don’t worry, NDP says, the B.C. economy’s booming

Most Read