Catherine Novak

  • Thank You! Here's What The Campaign Accomplished

    First the good news…

    More than 5,000 people voted for me.

    The bad news - I needed another 4,000 plus votes in order to be elected.

    And now the great news. I don't just want to thank all of you for your support, I want to let all of you know a few of the things that this campaign accomplished.

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  • Survey Answers to Pro-Art

    As a member of council, which current programs will you support, and/or what new initiatives will you propose that will work directly with the arts community to promote health and wellness for the citizens in your municipality? Is there anything else you would like to share regarding your relationship to the arts in the region?

    I've spent my life working in the arts as a playwright/director/performer/writer and producer and now as someone who teaches Writing and occasionally Theatre and intro to Fine Arts at the University of Victoria. That's why I volunteered for the Saanich Arts, Culture & Heritage advisory committee. When I saw the question the first thing that came to mind re: which programs I'll support was "all of them." And I'll do all I can to advocate for more.

    I've already been speaking with the key person behind the proposed Camosun film studio to push the idea that when the studio is vacant that it be made available to local media-makers at low or no cost. He seemed taken by the idea and I thought... okay... if I'm on council I can help make this happen.

    Yes, I can absolutely make the financial case for the arts - and I've had to over the years. So if anyone wants to hear about the multiplier effects - and how having artists in neighbourhoods improves those neighbourhoods and draws traffic to them - I'll be happy to dive into those stats. But... I feel one of the casualties of COVID was a sense of community and connection.

    Arts & culture are key to regaining community and connection. And... blue sky dream... when council is advocating for "amenities" for new buildings I'd love to consider performance and/or gallery spaces in that mix - as we lost some vital venues due to the pandemic.

  • Rural Saanich Voters' AGM - Where I Was

    When I heard there was an all-candidates meeting scheduled for Yom Kippur, I immediately contacted the organizers to let them know I could not attend. Not going to the synagogue to observe the holiest day of the Jewish year - after two years of praying on Zoom -was never an option.

    Imagine for a moment how candidates - and voters - would have reacted to an all-candidates meeting being scheduled on Easter Sunday.

    I get that most non-Jews don’t understand the significance of Yom Kippur, and was deeply concerned by the possibility of anyone in rural Saanich not understanding why I wasn’t at their only all-candidates event and feeling disrespected.

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  • Why I declined to complete the Homes for Living survey

    One of the most important issues for the people of Saanich - and one of the most important issues for me - is affordability. So I wanted to explain why I declined to complete the Homes for Living survey: Housing Survey - 2022 Election.

    I did complete the entire survey - but refused to answer several yes or no questions that I do not believe have yes or no answers .

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  • Survey Answers to Happy Dogs in Parks


    1.   What do you think are essential components of evidence-based decisions, how would you bring them to your role on council?

    The motto of my podcast about environmental issues is, “for fans of science-based facts and fact-based reality.” I’ve been a professional journalist since I was a teenager. I’m used to doing my own research. One of the first things I did when I received this survey was reach out to a friend who runs a dog-training company to get her take on best practices in Canada.

    2.   Why do you think the ‘on and off leash’ dog issue has become so divisive, how would you help to heal this rift in our community?

    Most issues become divisive the same way – miscommunication and/or lack of communication. I’d hope People, Pets and Parks will address this.

    3.   Will you commit to making a change to or reversing any of the current bylaws that newly restrict dog access, such as Gyro Park? What information would you want to use to make such a change?

    It’s my understanding that Gyro Park is a federal bird sanctuary, in which case I’d think federal laws would overrule anything the municipality could do. Federal law is quite clear – and rather draconian – about both dogs and cats in Migratory Bird Sanctuaries.

    5 (1) No person who owns a dog or cat shall permit the dog or cat to run at large in a migratory bird sanctuary.

       (2) A game officer may destroy any dog or cat found chasing or molesting migratory birds in a migratory bird sanctuary.

    As someone who loves dogs and cats I’m trying to find out more about the history and boundaries of the sanctuary and whether there are, or could be, areas that don’t have official sanctuary designation.

    4.   How do you see the current pop-up parks pilot fitting into a broader strategy for park use and sharing? Do you see them as a core of the solution? Why or why not.

    It’s an interesting approach and – being a fan of evidence-based decision-making -I’m looking forward to finding out how well they work.

    5.   Do you own a dog? Where do you take your dog? Do you use on or off-leash areas?

    I’m designated dog-sitter for the standard poodle who rules a couple of close friends and we just did a visit to Esquimalt Gorge Park where we played in both the on and off-leash areas. I’m friends with a dog trainer and occasionally visit her classes. My mom has worked with this trainer running classes and always has (at least) a couple of dogs. My wife and I are currently owned by two Norwegian Forest cats. One is leash-trained and she attended a puppy training class. The other can shake out of a leash like Houdini and once managed to slide out of her leash outside her vet’s and then went exploring the island for three months - so she stays inside

    6.   In your opinion do you think the $200k people, pets and parks project will create enough information to make good decisions on the issue? Why or why not? What would you change, remove or add to the scope to improve the outcome of the project?

    I hope so. It would be troubling if a $200,000 survey can’t provide enough information to guide solid decision-making. This appears to be a very ambitious attempt to consult the community and stakeholders. I hope that anyone concerned about this issue has shared, or will be sharing, their ideas and concerns. The best way to improve the outcome is to participate - and for Council and city staff to ensure that people are aware of how they can participate.

    7.   What would you do to get the owners of the estimated 10-15,000 unlicensed dogs in Saanich to purchase a license?

    The dog trainer I spoke with says the best – and most-appreciated - licensing program she’s aware of is Calgary’s. The Calgary program emphasizes that their licenses improve their ability to track and return lost dogs and cats. This provides a strong incentive to participate. The Calgary program appears to have serious support from the community. I’m not sure if you can share links, but just in case, there’s an editorial in the Calgary Sun headlined: “ If you love your pet, put a licence on it.

    8.   Do you think Saanich has good information about who uses our parks, when, why and how often? Please explain your thoughts and what you might want to add, change or augment.

    I’d hope that after doing a $200,000 survey that information will be solid.

    9.   In terms of a strategy for the people of Saanich and their Parks, what are your ideas and plans for supporting the variety of parks and pet-owners (off-leash designated areas; on-leash designated areas; no dog areas; accessible areas for both dog and non-dog owners, other ideas).

    As a fan of following the evidence, I’d want to study the results of the Peoples, Parks and Pets report. Thank you for providing these questions and I hope that you and all your dogs are staying happy.


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