Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chamber to Endorse a Slate for Victoria Council

It will be interesting to see what will come of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce endorsing a slate for Victoria City Council.   This is the first time that I am aware of such a clearly pro-business slate being organized in the City of Victoria. There have been informal pro-business campaigns but never one like what this seems to be.  

Tomorrow night the GVCC will be unveiling the slate they are endorsing for Victoria council.  At this point I have no firm names but some interesting rumours.   The one everyone is talking about is Ida Chong for mayor, but there is no confirmation on that, yet.   I also have no idea on the number of candidates but given the electoral system we use locally a full slate of eight is the best choice because it ensures the greatest chance of winning any seats at all.

I assume the endorsement means there will be some sort of affiliation on the ballot,  I do not know if it means  the GVCC will be on the ballot or if they will be creating a municipal political party.  

What this does mean is that there will be a bunch more well funded candidates running for Victoria City Council.   We could see as many as 16 serious candidates for council out of a field of likely more than 30.

Will more well funded campaigns help the incumbents or not?  Hard to say though when the vote is split up between enough serious challengers the incumbents tend to benefit.  On the other hand a slate with a well run campaign could very well change the dynamics of the election.   Our electoral system favours cohesive and well run slates for council over all others.  A slate of eight Chamber candidates four council could very well win all eight seats though I do not think they could win the mayorship.

The Chamber has also been active in other ways for the upcoming local elections.  On July 19th the Chamber hosted an event with the Manning Centre and sponsored Black Press called "Campaigning on a Shoestring"

Their press release for that event
Professional Training for Local Campaigning
July 14, 2014 – Victoria, BC – Candidates running for municipal office in Victoria will have the opportunity to get advice from professional strategists and campaigners this weekend. Municipal politicians play an increasingly key role in developing economically vibrant communities and as with any job, a solid base of training can make all the difference. To support anyone interested in running for office, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce with the Manning Centre is holding a two-day campaign training session on July 19th and 20th. 
Guest presenters include renowned pollster Dimitri Pantazopoulos. Dimitri provided public opinion research and managed direct voter contact for the 2013 BC Liberal election campaign and received national accolades as the only pollster to accurately predict the outcome of the provincial election. Dimitri’s extensive research into public attitudes guided the formulation of the strategy and messaging that contributed to the successful election of Premier Christy Clark.
Presenters for Campaigning on a Shoestring also include: Mike Martens, Bruce Hallsor, and Matt Gelinas. 
“We are pleased to have a great lineup of experienced campaigners for our training sessions,” said Frank Bourree, Chair of The Chamber. “This is the first time that subsidized training for municipal officials is being offered in Victoria. This training is also a great opportunity for anyone interested in running for municipal, provincial or federal office as well as anyone interested on working on a campaign.”  
Bruce Hallsor, partner at Crease Harman LLP, was the former campaign chair of the federal Conservative Party in BC. Bruce has worked on over 70 campaigns at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels.  
Mike Martens is the Director of the Manning School of Practical Politics, whose mission includes increasing the number and quality of political participants by filling gaps in training, research, and outreach. Mike has trained over 2,000 people and is a veteran political campaigner from BC.

Matt Gelinas is a partner in Calgary-based strategy firm Act Digital Ltd. and a campaign manager in Calgary. Matt has a wide breadth of experience in many aspects of political campaigning and is an expert NationBuilder consultant. 
The Chamber is subsidizing over half of the costs of campaign training as part of its Our Vibrant Community Committee’s mandate to promote good governance in the region in view of the upcoming municipal elections. By raising awareness of the critical role that local government plays in our daily lives, The Chamber hopes to inspire greater community involvement and develop tomorrow’s leaders.
For more information about Campaigning on a Shoestring, visit The Chamber’s website.

Mark Brennan running for View Royal Council

I can not find any social media links for him so I thought I would post his press release here:

News Release, July 25, 2014
Mark Brennan has announced his intention to run for View Royal Town Council in the 2014 Municipal Elections this Fall.
Mark's background is in law and business administration. He has enjoyed a 25-year career in municipal administration and has held the position of Chief Administrative Officer in several BC communities. Given his experience he has a keen understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing View Royal today. He intends to critically assess the needs of our residents and to work cooperatively with other Council members to forge creative ways to address them.
Sewage treatment and amalgamation are two regional topics that seem to be high on most capital region residents' minds, and Mark will seek out the View Royal consensus on these critical issues. However, his focus is more on residents' local concerns, i.e. those issues that most directly affect us in View Royal and to which Council can best apply their efforts. Mark believes in good stewardship of the municipality's assets and income streams, including the casino revenue which is a valuable legacy for our residents.
Mark and his wife Dora have had the great fortune to live in View Royal for many years now. They have raised three children here, two of whom attend the University of Victoria. Mark is currently enrolled at UVic as well, pursuing his Master's Degree in Public Administration. When he finds the time he also writes fiction and non-fiction, including articles on Canadian music.
Mark would love to hear from you! If you are a resident of View Royal please contact him at

by  Staff Writer - Goldstream News Gazette
posted Jul 29, 2014 at 4:00 PM
View Royal has its first declaration from a political hopeful.
Former Oak Bay chief administrative officer Mark Brennan announced Friday his intention to run for View Royal town council in this fall’s municipal election. He is the first to officially declare he will run for one of the four council seats.
Brennan has lived in View Royal with his wife, Dora, and three children for 11 years and is currently enrolled at the University of Victoria, pursuing a masters degree in public administration.
His background is in law and business administration, and his 25-year career in municipal administration has taken him around the Island and Lower Mainland, with stops in Comox, Fraser-Cheam, Harrison Hot Springs, Port Hardy and View Royal.
None of the incumbent councillors have yet to publicly declare they will run. They include Ron Mattson, who has spent six terms on council starting in 1990; Heidi Rast, who has served since 2008; John Rogers, who has served since 1996 and David Screech, first elected to council in 2002.
Municipal elections take place across B.C. on Nov. 15.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Monday, June 02, 2014

Cost of Independent Schools in Victoria

In Victoria we have a significant number of independent schools.  Some are very small and some are on the same scale as public schools.  They all charge fees but dramatically different amounts.

One thing that has been raised in the current teachers labour dispute is the issue of public funding for independent schools.   Independent schools can be partially funded by the government in BC though not all of them.   In Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario the government offers 100% public funding for one set of "independent schools" - the Catholic ones.
Here is how it is decided which independent schools get government funding:
Group 1 schools - they offer the BC curriculum and use BC certified teachers and have at least 50% of their students come from BC.   They also do not have a per student operating cost higher than the local school district.  In the case of SD#61, as far as I can tell, this is about $8,300 per full time student.  Here in Victoria they qualify for $3,450 per full time student.  Just over 3/4s of the students attending independent schools in BC attend Group 1 schools.

Group 2 schools - as above except their operating cost is more than the cost for a full time student in the local school district.  Here in Victoria they can receive $2,300 per full time student.  About one in five students in independent schools go to a Group 2 school.

Group 3 schools choose not to use BC certified teachers and do not qualify for support.

Group 4 schools mainly cater to international students and receive no funding.

All independent schools charge fees to attend and it is a scale of expense that runs from borderline affordable for families on a middle class income for many of the faith based ones and alternative ones to the top end traditional private schools which are only affordable for the rich.

The fees below do not include any extra fees or costs involved with the school

Annual tuition fee for schools offering curriculum for up to the end of Grade 8 for the first child - faith based schools in red
$3,940 - Lighthouse Christian Academy 
$4,380 - Victoria Catholic Elementary for a parish supporter
$4,500 - Elizabeth Buckley School 
$4,850 - Victoria School for Ideal Education
$5,320 - Anglicans at the Christ Church Cathedral School
$5,352 - Victoria Catholic Elementary for a non-parish supporter
$5,485 - Pacific Christian School to grade 7
$5,500 - Arts Calibre Academy to grade 5
$5,600 - non-Anglicans at the Cathedral School
$7,100 - Discovery School to grade 9
$7,319 - Selkirk Montessori
$7,332 - West Mont Montessori to grade 6
$8,100 - Maria Montessori Academy
$8,364 - West Mont Montessori grades 7 and 8
$12,400 - St Margaret's School to grade 4
$13,200 - St Margaret's School grades 5 to 7
$15,025 - Glenlyon Norfolk House to grade 5
$15,930 - St Michaels University School to grade 5
$17,100 - Glenlyon Norfolk House grades 6 to 8
$18,180 - St Michaels University School grades 6 to 8
$28,800 - Victoria Eaton Arrowsmith School - I am not entirely certain what this school is

For grades 9 to 12, the number of independent school options drops
Tuition fees for High School for the first child
$3,940 - Lighthouse Christian Academy grades 9 and 10
$4,990 - Lighthouse Christian Academy grades 11 and 12
$5,880 - St Andrew's High School (Catholic) for a parish supporter for the first child
$6,800 - Pacific Christian School grade 8 to 12
$7,200 - Discovery School grades 10 to 12
$7,608 - St Andrew's High School (Catholic) for a non-parish supporter for the first child
$8,262 - Maria Montessori Academy grades 9 to 11
$14,400 - St Margaret's School grades 8 and 9
$15,900 - St Margaret's School grades 10 to 12
$18,580 - Glenlyon Norfolk House
$19,790 - St Michaels University School
$28,800 - Victoria Eaton Arrowsmith School

The faith based schools tend to be among the more affordable ones.   The largest faith based independent schools in BC are the Catholic ones.   There are 79 Catholic schools in BC which, in my estimation, means about 24,000 students attend a Catholic school.  This is about one third of all the students in independent schools.

Full public funding of faith based schools is something that still happens in parts of Canada   In Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario the Catholic schools are fully publicly funded.   Newfoundland and Labrador fully funded faith based schools till 1997.  In Quebec they had separate Catholic and Protestant school boards till 1999.   Because here in BC the Catholic schools are not part of the public system there can be problems comparing our education system to those in Alberta or Ontario.

Most  schools offer discounts if more than one child attends and here are some of the examples of what that discount works out to:
$2,026 per child - Lighthouse Christian Academy with 3 children in the school
$2,571 per child - Pacific Christian School with 3 children in school up to grade 7
$2,816 per child - Victoria Catholic Elementary for a parish supporter with 3 children in the school
$3,039 per child - Lighthouse Christian Academy with 2 children in the school
$3,224 per child - Victoria Catholic Elementary for a non-parish supporter with 3 children in the school
$3,654 per child - Pacific Christian School with 2 children in the school up to grade 7
$3,918 per child - Victoria Catholic Elementary for a parish supporter with 2 children in the school
$4,652 per child -  Anglicans at the Christ Church Cathedral School with 3 children in the school
$4,836 per child - Victoria Catholic Elementary for a non-parish supporter with 2 children in the school
$5,070 per child - non-Anglicans at the Christ Church Cathedral School with 3 children in the school
$5,070 per child - Anglicans at the Christ Church Cathedral School with 2 children in the school
$5,132 per child - West Mont Montessori with 3 children in the school to grade 6
$5,300 per child - non- Anglicans at the Christ Church Cathedral School with 2 children in the school
$5,499 per child - West Mont Montessori with 2 children in the school to grade 6
$5,562 per child - Selkirk Montessori with 3 children in the school
$6,002 per child - Selkirk Montessori with 2 children in the school
$9,920 per child - St Margaret's School with 3 children in K-4
$11,160 per child - St Margaret's School with 2 children in K-4
$3,314 per child - Pacific Christian School with 3 children in grades 8 to 12
$3,612 per child -  St Andrew's High School (Catholic) for a parish supporter with 3 children in the school
$4,732 per child - Pacific Christian School with 2 children in the school
$4,848 per child -  St Andrew's High School (Catholic) for a non-parish supporter with 3 children in the school
$5,130 per child -  St Andrew's High School (Catholic) for a parish supporter with 2 children in the school
$6,540 per child  - St Andrew's High School (Catholic) for a non-parish supporter with 2 children in the school

Friday, May 30, 2014

Creating A Community In Elkington Forest

At Elkington Forest Doug Makaroff is doing something dramatically different.  He has figured out how to mobilize the largest asset of middle class Canadians, their home.  to help protect the world around us.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

So where all the voters? Voter turnout in local elections and why it is low

People in this region are willing to vote but the turnout at local elections has consistently been low.

Here is the turnout by municipality going back over the last six elections.  I am missing data from many of the earlier elections.
Municipality 2011 2008 2005 2002 1999 1996
Highlands    accl 72.0 74.4      58.4
Metchosin    48.8 58.8           48.8
Oak Bay      42.0 48.0 28.7
Sooke        41.9 43.7 40.6 35.3
Nth Saanich  41.5 52.5 48.3
Ctl Saanich  32.4 33.4 28.0
Sidney       31.0 36.5 accl 35.5
View Royal   27.9 23.3 accl
Colwood      26.8 27.0 24.8
Victoria     26.4 26.9 26.4 31.3 31.2 26.2
Saanich      25.4 21.0 19.1 24.6
Esquimalt    18.0 26.9 32.5      25.0
Langford     14.0 22.9 21.3

In the 44 elections listed above only four times did more than half the population vote.   Meanwhile in 10 examples one quarter or less of the population voted.

It is not that people in this region are not willing to vote, when we look at federal and provincial elections we see that 60% to 75% of people are voting in most cases.   Work done by Elections BC indicates that 90% of people voted in at least one of the 2001, 2005 and 2009 elections.  Only around 10% of the population is unwilling to ever vote. 

In Saanich about 76,000 of the voters have voted in at least one of the federal or provincial elections in the last decade.   In 2011 only 21,134 people voted in the local election.    Close to 55,000 people who are willing to vote did not come out vote last time.   

In Victoria the numbers are 60,000 willing to vote but only 17,249 voting in 2011 for a total of 37,750 missing voters.

Turnout in Federal Elections
Riding           2011 2008 2006 2004
Saanich Gulf Isl 75.3 70.4 73.2 74.0
Victoria         67.5 67.5 71.0 68.4   
Esquimalt JdF    65.2 64.6 58.1 65.9

Turnout in Provincial Elections
Riding                 2013 2009 2005 2001
Oak Bay Gordon Head    70.8 66.9 73.6 75.5
Saanich North + Isl    70.3 66.8 73.1 75.9
Saanich South          67.8 66.4 72.0 76.0
Victoria Beacon Hill   59.3 57.2 64.1 69.6
Esquimalt RR/Metchosin 58.9 58.3 66.9 69.5
Vic Swan Lake/Hillside 58.7 56.9 62.7 68.7
Juan de Fuca/Mala-JdF  58.4 59.9 69.6 73.6
It is important to note that how BC calculated voter turnout changed between 2005 and 2009.  Elections BC not only tried to get a lot more people registered, they worked out how many people should be on the voters list.

Can we get all these people that voted in the previous federal and provincial elections to vote in the local elections?

I think it comes down to people not knowing enough about the races for councils to be able to feel comfortable casting a ballot.   People need to get clear information from or about candidates for them to be able to make up their mind.   The problem is that none of things are easy to achieve in a local election.

When in a local election the turnout is higher than previously it often has to do with a competitive race for mayor.  When there is a big race for mayor there tend to only be two strong candidates which makes it easier for people to get the information to make a decision.

When people do vote they will often choose the names on the ballot they have heard of which means it is really hard to defeat an incumbent councilor.   

In a provincial or federal election each candidate has a brand they are connected with.  It means for a lot of people the decision on how they will vote is driven by their opinion of the political parties.   This is not available in local elections.

In a local election campaign it is very hard for anyone show how their platform is something actually different than everyone else.   The phrases and words used by most candidates all start to sound the same rather quickly.   I suspect this is because most candidates would have a very hard time expressing what they would do that is dramatically different than is done currently.   For most voters this means that information they are getting online or in a flyer is not at all helpful to make a decision.

It does not help that in the local elections we have 13 races for council and three races for school boards all at the same time in one city.   The are so many candidates that it is effectively impossible for the local media to cover any of the races.   It is also hard for the media to cover because the platforms of most of the people running do not make for a compelling narrative for the news.   In in federal or provincial election not only are there fewer candidates, there are clear dividing lines between the people running.   Too many races with too many candidates and no clear narrative means it is nightmare for the media to cover.

Ideally a candidate should meet every voter and talk to them.   If they can do this they have a decent chance of convincing people to vote for them.   The problem is that doing this on your own as a candidate is not really possible.  Even in Highlands, with about 1500 voters, it would mean trying to meet 50 people a day in a month long campaign.   It takes a long time in the Highlands to get from house to house.   To have a chance to win an election a candidate needs a campaign team.

Campaigning properly takes a significant sized team if you want to reach all the voters.  In Saanich you need to have a team of 300 to 500 volunteers to reach most of the voters.   In Oak Bay you could get away with 50 to 100.   With so many candidates running at once in this region there are not enough people out there to properly run a campaign.  If even only 100 candidates could achieve a moderate sized campaign team of 100 volunteers that would involve 10,000 people, that is way beyond what anyone could find in this region for political campaigning.   In Greater Victoria there are likely no more than 2,000 to 3,000 people that would seriously consider helping on a campaign.

What it all boils down to:

  • The voter needs good information to make a decision on who to vote for.
  • The candidate has no way to reach the voter with that information they need - not through the media, not through their platform and not through a campaign team.   
The only way this will change is if candidate comes forward with a large campaign team, a clear platform of change, and a compelling narrative for the media.   

2005 Highlands Election Results

Mark Cardinal   536 previously three term councilor
Karel Roessingh 508 (inc)

Council - 6 to be elected
Jane Mendum        559 (inc)
Andrew Fall        539
Michelle Mahovlich 546
Ken Brotherston    537 (inc)
Joe Kadar          537 (inc)
Ken Williams       517
???? Parkinson     515
???? Burns         509
Elaine Limbrick    505
???? York          497

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

ALR in Saanich

There are some "interesting" chunks of agricultural land reserve in Saanich.    A fair amount of it is parks, two schools are on ALR land and six golf courses.   Golf courses have not been an allowed use for ALR for over 22 years now.

Parks with some or all of the land in ALR

  • Cuthbert Holmes Park 5 hectares on the western end of the park
  • Cedar Hill Golf Course and Park - 48 hectares - this is not all of the park but 5 hectares on the eastern edge of the park is not in ALR
  • Beckwith park 8.2 ha is in the ALR, and 0.75 ha is not
  • Christmas Hill 0.33 ha is in the ALR next to Rogers elementary
  • Swan Lake 32 ha is in, 
  • Mount Doug 1.5 ha on the south flank
  • Elk Lake 24 ha at north west end - 60 ha on the east shore, 6.8 ha west side of Beaver Lake
  • Small park at the end of Story Land 1.2 ha
  • Lochside park 4.5 ha
  • Colquitz Park near north end 0.33 ha
  • Blekinsop Lake Park 3.2 ha
  • Quick's Bottom Park 18 ha, but a small amount is out on the north end
  • Prospect lake park 2.4 ha next to Prospect Elementary
  • Brodrick Park 0.5 ha 
  • Layeritz 20 ha in the ALR and 7.8 ha is out
  • Rithet's Bog 41 ha  small bits are outside of it
  • Bear Hill Regional Park 10.5 ha is in the ALR, most is out
  • Cuthbert Holmes - the ALR land is the faint brown diagonal lines
  • TOTAL 287.5 ha in parks

Schools in the ALR

  • 3.4 ha of Rogers Elementary is on ALR
  • Prospect Lake Elementary 3 ha
  • TOTAL in ALR 6.4 ha

Rogers Elementary - all ALR
Golf Courses within the ALR

  • 49 hectares in Cordova Bay Golf Course, part of the course is outside of the ALR
  • 16.8 ha of the Mount Doug Golf Course, which is all of it
  • 7.6 ha Victoria Golf Academy on Blenkinsop, which is all of it
  • 8.8 ha of the Royal Oak Golf Course
  • 4 ha of the Prospect Lake Golf Course
  • Cedar Hill Golf Course 40 ha
  • TOTAL in ALR 126.2 ha

Overall total 380.1 ha which is about 18% of the ALR in Saanich.

There should be a move to get all of this ALR land back into a form so that it could be used for farming again.  The easiest ones would be the parks.    If the public does not want the park lands to be farmed, the land should be removed from the ALR.