Alice Finall will retire from municipal politics when her term as Mayor of North Saanich comes to an end in the fall.
Finall made the announcement Monday, May 7, stating that after 16 years of elected office in the District, her third term as mayor will come to an end in October — when the civic elections are set to replace the current council.
In addition to her 16 years in office — she was elected as a councillor from 1993to 1999 and has been mayor since 2008, serving three consecutive terms — Finall has 35 years’ experience in community service in North Saanich in various capacities and has lived in the community since 1975.
“It’s been a long time,” she laughed in an interview with the News Review. “My husband and I are getting on a bit and we have to travel to see family. I think we have a little travel in our plans.”
Finall, a retired lawyer, said she thinks the District has made a lot of progress on some of the bigger issues in the community over her time in office. This year, the District announced it’s working with a transition group on the future use of 83 acres of agricultural land at the former Sandown horse racing track.
As well, Finall said the future of the Dunsmuir land has been mostly worked out, with 25 acres of the former University of Victoria property sold to Homewood Health as a new treatment facility and the remaining 75 acres sold to the Pauquachin First Nation. Homewood Health, she said, is expected to speak to council before the end of this term to outline their plans further.
Issues such as new capital projects, new commercial and residential developments, secondary suite policies and a plan for affordable housing, have each offered their own challenges, Finall added, noting that she’s been fortunate to work with great people and amazing staff to see that work play out. She said the District’s capable staff will help the next council stay the course.
“We’ve set a good direction.”
Finall was first elected as a councillor in 1993, serving until 1999. She said she was fortunate then to work with a forward-looking council.
“I was just energized by my time on council then.”
Taking that experience, Finall ran for mayor in 2008, receiving the highest number of votes for a successful mayoral candidate in North Saanich. She was acclaimed as mayor in 2011 and faced a tighter race in 2014 and was re-elected by approximately 158 votes over challenger Dorothy Hartshorne.
There are already two mayoral challengers in the field for the October, 2018 municipal election: incumbent councillor Geoff Orr and businessman Stephen Weller. Finall said once her term is over, she plans on stepping back from politics and letting the mayoral race in North Saanich take shape without her.
She said the job of a councillor and mayor has changed in the years since she was first election. Finall said social media has made communication with people in the community more immediate — meaning it’s almost a 24/7 job.
And while she admitted there have been challenges on council over the years, it has all been a learning experience, adding even when she faced a minority situation during the previous term of office, the District was still able to get things done.
“All of it’s an education. It’s amazing what you can get through and accomplish.”
Finall added she decided to announce her decision to step away at the end of the term now, to allow the mayoral race to proceed with more certainty about who will be running. As well, she said if anyone thought she might run again — and held off because of that — now they can throw their hats into the ring.
The civic elections in B.C. take place October 20, 2018.