Saanich byelection winner, Karen Harper, wants to rescind and rebuild controversial EDPA

Saanich byelection winner, Karen Harper, wants to rescind and rebuild controversial EDPA

WATCH: Nearly 10,000 Saanich residents voted in a byelection, resulting in a victory for Karen Harper. She is a critic of the city’s EDPA bylaw. Isabelle Raghem reports. 

Karen Harper will be Saanich’s next councillor.

Preliminary results show Harper, the retired B.C. pension corporation vice-president and chief knowledge officer, won with 2,340 votes.

She was followed by Rebecca Mersereau at 2,238 and Nathalie Chambers at 1,856.

A total of 9,521 votes were cast.

“I’m still in a bit of shock. Actually, it’s [just] beginning to sink in,” said Harper Sunday morning.

Her first order of business: the environmental development permit area bylaw or EDPA.

“I’ve said this numerous times, it needs to be rescinded but it needs to be rebuilt.”

About 2,300 Saanich properties were placed in the EDPA when it was developed in 2012 meaning any work on the land requires a permit.

Harper says she’s ready to take a stand against it when a report on the EDPA is delivered to council late October.

“It’s the only municipality in the province where there has been so much conflict and I think that speaks to the fact that it wasn’t well rolled out it and wasn’t well explained,” explains Harper.

“I think it’ll be a challenge for her to find support to abolish the EDPA,” said Saanich Coun. Colin Plant Sunday.

Plant says most on council are looking to revise and fix the bylaw, not tear it down.

“I think it’s always easier to suggest things being better when you’re not in council,” explained Plant, “when you sit behind the desk you perhaps get a broader perspective rather than watching just one side of things.”

But Plant insists he looks forward to hearing her ideas.

“Her heart is in the right place.  She wants to serve Saanich so I tip my hat to her.”

Harper says she’s excited to get to work.

“It’s only a year until the next election so I really do have to focus,” said Harper.

She will be sworn-in on Oct. 16 but knows her work has already begun.

Isabelle RaghemIsabelle Raghem

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