A dozen years after Graham Hill first slipped on the chains of office as mayor, View Royal is guaranteed to have a new political leader following the Nov. 15 municipal election.
Long-time councillor David Screech is facing off against Brian Burchill, a long-time View Royal resident known most recently for his work with sewage treatment protest group ARESST, for the right to succeed the retiring four-term mayor.
“With Graham deciding to retire, I saw an opportunity to step up,” Screech said. “I had been thinking of it prior to that, but with him deciding he was ready to retire that’s essentially what made my decision.”
Years on council have given him the background and experience to make the move, he said. “I worked closely with Graham, so I’ve had an opportunity to learn a great deal from him over the years as well.”
Retired entrepreneur and traffic accident analyst Burchill said he respects Screech’s time on council and admits he doesn’t have any himself. However, council experience shouldn’t be the only factor, he said, especially given the town’s relatively recent political past.
“Screech has that (experience) and congratulations to him for all that, but I would counter that Mayor Hill (was elected in 2002) without any experience on council either,” Burchill said. “That shouldn’t be an issue. I’m a quick learner and councillors will bring me up to speed quickly.”
When it comes to the more pressing issues in the township, both men agreed on amalgamation and the need for improved communication with residents. They differed in their approach to an issue they both conceded was one of the biggest issues across the region.
“Sewage is obviously the number one issue for the whole region at the moment,” Screech said.
“That one, for me, is important and it’s clear we have to move ahead. We have been mandated by both the provincial and federal governments to do so. We have to find a way with our partners to make it work. I think for us it is essential we are part of a larger group, which is why we formed a sub-committee with Esquimalt, Langford, Colwood, View Royal and Songhees. It’s essential that it can be done for the same cost or less as the original plan (and if so), that will be an excellent solution.”
Burchill is chair of the Association for Responsible and Environmentally Sustainable Sewage Treatment (ARREST), a society aimed at stopping government from mandating unnecessary, costly or environmentally harmful systems. He has a completely different take on what should, or more importantly shouldn’t, be done.
“It’s going to be hard to come up with a system better than what we have now,” h said, pointing to the preliminary screening and ocean discharge 1.5 kilometres off shore.
“I want to counter political rhetoric and bring the science and evidence forward and properly satisfy the new federal regulations. That has to be thoroughly explored and get the public relations spin and politics out of it and the facts and science into the discussion.”
According to scientists and engineers, Burchill said, there is no evidence of anyone getting sick from the current practices and no evidence of fish dying. Taking the time to find the right system at the right time, if at all, is the prudent choice rather than rushing to implement something that might not provide the best solution, he added.
Burchill hopes to further open up lines of communication with residents if he is elected.
“I am going to be retired. I have time. I can dedicate the required amount of time to represent the views of the citizens of View Royal,” he said. “I want to understand their priorities and concerns.”
Screech was equally gracious in addressing the public.
“I would be very honoured to be the mayor,” he said. “In terms of what I would bring, I bring stability, experience and (will) continue the good work of Graham and the past council.”
Third man in
• As he appears on all the mayoral ballots in the Capital Region, Saanich resident David Shebib is running for the top job in View Royal and 12 other jurisdictions. While the logistics of that seem hard to figure, his campaign manager, Victoria right-to-sleep activist David Arthur Johnston, insists Shebib is maintaining a busy campaign schedule around the region.