The Highlands is a primarily residential community, rural in nature, and blessed with an exceptional abundance of scenic beauty, public parkland, and native plant and animal life. Those who live here place high value on the natural environment and a rural lifestyle. Highlanders are actively involved in the community, which fosters a spirit that is both self-reliant and cooperative. A stunningly beautiful rural residential area, the Highlands is located just 20 minutes from downtown Victoria, in the foothills between the Saanich Peninsula and other Westshore communities. Most residents travel to neighbouring towns in order to work, attend school, visit libraries, shop, and engage in regional cultural and athletic interests.
This small community prides itself on its pioneering spirit, as evidenced during winter weather events, and is proud of its many volunteers and high level of community involvement. More than one-third of the Highlands is protected as municipal, regional, and provincial parkland, enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Heritage is important to Highlanders, who are dedicated to the preservation of the past with its old buildings and the history of First Nations and European settlement. Highlanders take great pride in stewardship of the environment and conservation of the land, which is the natural legacy we will leave to future generations.
2015 Annual Report Update form Mayor Ken Williams
2015 was a year filled with excitement, new challenges and a changing of the guard. Council established an ambitious set of goals and worked hard to ensure that thoughtful and consultative processes guided our decisions.
In January, your brand new Highlands Council absorbed a daunting amount of information about Local Government and the "best practices” that help us serve our community. Council focused on linking the nine ICSP strategy areas to our Strategic Priorities Plan. Maintaining our rural character, enhancing groundwater protection, economic diversification in South Highlands, heritage protection and environmental protection were important objectives. Construction of the new Community Hall and new East Firehall continued and was completed in 2015.
Eleven year old Rupert Yaklashek came to council in February. He sought and received council support for the "right to a healthy environment”.
During March, Council approved staff proceeding with detailed financial planning including options to borrow funds for all or parts of the five year capital funding components for the Fire Department including Superior Shuttle Accreditation.
In May, Council drafted strategic priorities for 2015-2018. We also approved an amendment to the Bear Mountain Partnership Agreement that allowed for the construction of clay tennis courts.
During the summer months our attention turned to implementing the use of the Sustainable Highlands Decision Making Framework as well as setting in motion recommendations from the gap analysis for water regulations. Plans were begun for the new Community Hall and New East Firehall Grand Opening in September. The event was a great success that involved many community members and showcased these wonderful new facilities.
In the Fall, policies for Select Committees were adopted and a Soil Regulation Bylaw reviewed. Our long time CAO Chris Coates moved on to the City of Victoria and was replaced by interim CAO Tim Wood.
On behalf of Council, we look forward to continuing to serve the community during the term ahead. In closing, I would like to thank our staff, councillors, firefighters, community organizations and volunteers for their work, involvement, and especially their collaboration.