By Peter Wilson, Vancouver Sun, 21 November 2005
Despite a strong showing by challenger Ben Isitt, Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe was returned for his third straight term in B.C.’s capital city.
Although Lowe was expected to keep his mayor’s chair, the race was much tighter than most observers had expected and this was shown by results that gave Lowe 51.93 per cent of the vote with 8,690, as compared to Isitt’s 43.61 per cent at 7,298.
Lowe had run on his six-year record of achievement, including the new city arena, the Save-On Foods Memorial Centre. Lowe also backed a safe-injection site, although Isitt said Lowe was moving too slowly on this.
In his acceptance speech, Lowe said that “to win a third consecutive term in office, that’s incredible. Wow.”
Lowe said he would continue to work to make Victoria a “viable and sustainable city and the best city in Canada.” He said he would also be taking a run at heading the Capital Regional District board.
As an independent in 2002 Isitt, who ran this time under the banner of the NDP-affiliated Victoria Civic Electors, took a surprising 32 per cent of the ballots cast, with 5,047 votes, compared to Lowe’s 9,655 votes or 61.65 per cent of the total.
Proposals by Isitt, a doctoral history student at the University of Victoria, were a public market, a performing arts centre, more buses and a wireless network for downtown Victoria.
In one of the hardest fought races in the 13-municipality Capital region challenger and former Metchosin mayor John Ranns defeated incumbent Karen Watson. The lopsided upset saw Ranns with 1,171 votes to Watson’s 586.
Both candidates had run on the basis that they knew best how to preserve the community’s rural lifestyle. A big issue in the election was over a shelved official community plan for Metchosin produced by the previous council which would have allowed living suites in secondary buildings like garages, barns and boathouses. The plan also called for extra commercial development and increased density in the village core.
In Central Saanich challenger Jack Mar, with 2,099 votes, defeated incumbent mayor Allison Habkirk, who had 1,768 ballots cast in her favour. A traditional major concern in the area is the preservation of farmland and fear of the incursion of development into the community’s rural lifestyle.
A three-way race in Esquimalt was won by Chris Clement who got 1,649 votes, compared with rivals Ruth Layne and Darwin Robinson, with 960 and 912 votes, respectively.
Looming large in the Esquimalt campaign has been the battle over the handling of sewage in the community. Many residents oppose a treatment plant at Esquimalt’s Macaulay Point where one of Greater Victoria’s two outfall pump sites is located. The Capital Regional District wants to use 2.9 hectares of Department of National Defence land to build it.
In Colwood Mayor Jody Twa won with 1,438 voters. Main challenger Terry Robinson got 922 votes while the other mayoralty candidate, Bambi Fernando, had 216 votes.
First-term Sooke mayor Janet Evans was returned to office in a three-way race against challengers George Obriain and Bob Sykes. Among the issues in the campaign were the revitalization of the downtown area in the hopes of keeping Sooke shoppers at home.
Langford’s mayor Stewart Young defeated software engineer challenger Robert Fraser who had said he wanted a more open and transparent city government.
Head to head in North Saanich were incumbent Ted Daly and challenger Patrick Godfrey, the redevelopment of Sandown Raceway, rising sewer costs and marina expansion.