The chair of the committee tasked with reviewing governance told council Monday that public participation was not as high as expected.
John Schmuck, chair of the Governance Review Citizen Advisory Committee (GRCAC), said it has been hard to get public attention for the issue, adding he had hoped for more, based on the public engagement that other issues like the Environmental Development Permit Area bylaw had generated.
“Local government affects you when you walk out of the door,” he said, citing a list of items such as infrastructure and policing among others. “It’s the closest level of government to your day-to-day life.”
The District of Saanich commissioned the review after 88 per cent of voters during the last municipal election in November 2014 agreed with the following statement: “Do you support council initiating a community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and our partnerships within the region?”
Overall, the committee received 372 responses, if the number of filled out surveys (250) and the number of residents who participated in public engagement sessions are added up, said Schmuck. That figure, he said, does not include the emails that the committee received.
Several councillors, however, praised the effort. Coun. Fred Haynes praised the quality of its membership and its uniqueness in leading an important process. He also added that public interest in the governance review was actually significantly higher than the process for Saanich’s budget deliberations.
Schmuck said the committee plans to submit its final report by the end of October.
With four-and-a-half months left in the project, the review has spent about 76 per cent or $130,000 of its budget, according to district staff. That figure includes $50,000 to initiate the project.
Schmuck said the bulk of the remaining funds will be go towards the consultants who have been with the project from the start.