COLUMN: How to bring Victoria into the 21st century

This monthly column will bring readers up to date with the goings on in and around City Hall.

  • Fri Sep 2nd, 2016 11:00am
  • News

By Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps

Thanks Victoria News for providing this opportunity for me to connect directly with your fine readers. This monthly column will bring readers up to date with the goings on in and around City Hall. I’ll also share my thoughts and opinions on matters of public interest and concern. If there’s a topic you’d like me to cover, please send your suggestions to mayor@victoria.ca.

At the beginning of this term, Victoria city council set an ambitious and fast-paced agenda from, yes, Biketoria, to finishing the Johnson Street Bridge, to building a new fire hall, replacing or refurbishing Crystal Pool, developing both an arts and culture master plan and a parks and open spaces master plan, opening a business hub at City Hall to support the entrepreneurial spirit so alive in Victoria right now, and much more.

We know we’re moving at a rapid clip with all this change. Here’s why. In council’s four-year plan we set this goal: “Victoria is a leading edge capital city that embraces the future and builds on the past, where human well-being and the environment are priorities, where the community feels valued, heard and understood and where City Hall is trusted. Victoria is livable, affordable, prosperous and vibrant, where we all work in partnership to seize opportunities and get things done.”

This doesn’t mean we’ll make everyone happy all the time, or that we won’t make mistakes. But it does mean that as a city council and as a community, we have great aspirations for our capital city in the 21st century.

In meeting this goal there’s a challenge we’re all facing. And I think we need to pay close attention to it and to work through it as a community. There is a quiet, underlying divide in the community that has not been named or addressed head on. Loosely characterized and not as black and white as this: There’s a divide between folks who want Victoria to move into the 21st century and others who want to preserve Victoria as it has been, between those who see Victoria as a small town and want to keep it that way and those who want Victoria to come into its own as a big city but not one like Vancouver where you can no longer see the sky.

What can we do to resolve this? Be sure to read the October edition of this column to hear my thoughts. Want to share yours? Join us at City Hall for a cup of coffee at our biweekly community drop in. See victoria.ca/dropin for the schedule.