My name is Sue Stroud and it's what's in my heart that I want to talk to you about tonight.
What's in here is a deep and abiding love for this place called Central Saanich.
I love the beauty of this place. I love her heritage and I love her people.
I came here as a teenager 35 years ago. For 30 of those years I have lived right here on Tanner Road, in Saanichton and in Brentwood Bay. I know our community well. I went to Mt. Newton School, picked strawberries on the Querin's farm on Veyaness, climbed Bear Hill for picnics at Elk Lake, and biked to Mt Newton to visit my friends. I have always had very happy memories of this place.
And they are rural memories, memories of the smell of berry stained fingers, and the look of the farms in the morning and the song of the skylarks that have flown away from here now.
When I'm at work, and need a break from the demands of the computer and the phone, I close my eyes and picture the Inlet & the Malahat in the sunset or Mt Newton Valley in the mist.
It is this sense of place that makes me ask you for a seat at the table. I can't promise that I will have all the answers, I know for sure I don't. But I can promise that I will listen and study and learn, and then listen to you some more.
I know that the issues are often difficult and contentious and that sometimes there is no right answer. But I also know that good people, working together, can build a community that works for everyone.
I support the Official Community Plan and I see it as our vision for our community. We need to take that vision and cultivate it. We need to make sure all of our citizens are involved in it.
When I was a student at Mt Newton I helped build the trail in Centennial Park. Five years ago I helped save the Brentwood Bay ferry and I can't believe we have to do it again already. Two years ago I helped my mother and her friends get a solar powered light for the crosswalk up the street. I am now part of a group of people who would like to develop some community gardens so everyone can enjoy their own harvest.
I believe we need to be building REAL affordable housing so that people who love this place won't be driven away. Those who wish to develop here, should have to dream our dream--we are not Langford, we are not Sidney, we are ourselves.
We do need more chance to talk and dream together and gently tend what nature has given us.
We need to value our farmers and their farmland and make sure that the land is safe, the farmers are prosperous and that there are new farmers to tend our breadbasket. This means engaging the schools in our rural dream. Farming is science, and art, and heritage and mechanics. And it is vital to our well-being.
We need to respect our First Nations neighbours. Their elders have as much to teach us as any textbook. Their life-experience is full of this place. They call the mountain Lau wel naw, Place of Refuge. I see the whole of Central Saanich as a place of refuge from the noisy world outside. When I hear the drums at pow-wow I hear the heartbeat of the land beneath us.
I am of this place. I will, with your help, take care of this place.