Meet Your Candidates: City of Victoria council candidates outline their top initiatives

Twenty-nine candidates face off for eight seats on council

In the City of Victoria there are 29 candidates running for eight seats on council. We asked each candidate how they would make the municipality a better place and to outline their top three key initiatives. Here are their responses.

Gary Alberts

1. Taxes – There are 86,000 residents of Victoria, plus 6,200 businesses in the city – their voices need to be heard. Politicians should represent all of them, not just specific groups.

2. Homeless – It cost the taxpayers $3 million to remediate the tent city site on Quadra Street, money that could have been targeted at the root of the problem, chronic poverty and homelessness. We need laws to prevent a recurrence of that disaster, but we also need programs aimed at giving our less fortunate residents a chance to break the cycle and become contributing members of the city.

3. Transportation – Bicycle lanes should not interfere with buses, vehicles or pedestrians. We all need to share the roads. The current designs on Pandora Avenue and Fort Street need changes.

I would make the City of Victoria a better place by improving our Inner Harbour. A cohesive plan needs to be developed, with proper planning and budgeting to complete the David Foster Harbour Pathway, and the area around Ship Point.

Marianne Alto-Bond

1. Housing: diversity, accessibility, affordability, balancing future and current needs.

2. Transportation planning and operation: untangling the region’s gridlock.

3. Community and business prosperity: strengthening our economic engine to pay for community and social services.

4. Social justice: struggling Victorians need compassion, while we increase economic parity, public safety and effective social service delivery.

5. Reconciliation: reconstructing relationships with First Nations will be a legacy of our age.

6. Simplify city operations: more choices for residents, more efficient service delivery at lower costs.

Accomplishing my platform objectives will create a better city of measured, thoughtful growth, with adequate affordable housing where people live near their work. Where we are mindful of our most vulnerable, and house them with adequate services. With integrated transportation links so residents move at whatever pace suits their abilities, and neighborhoods that have amenities with balanced public/private space. A harbor pathway, downtown access to the sea, city services supporting healthy lifestyles.

Stephen Andrew

1. Affordability – More initiatives to increase our affordable housing stock. Establish supportive emergency shelters to eliminate the need people without a home to live on the street or tent cities.

2. Accountability – Ensure we do not repeat issues such as the botched investigation of the former police chief. Elected officials that are responsible, transparent and own their mistakes. Proper consultation.

3. Fiscal Responsibility – Spend our money carefully and not waste it through mismanagement of major projects, pet projects and unnecessary expenditures.

I will work to secure more co-operation throughout the region and with other levels of government to find and deliver solutions to our social challenges. We need to remove the “us” / “them” and “pro” / “against” approach that is so prevalent in our city that arose through a lack of appropriate consultation. We need to be “pro” Victoria. I will also work to develop initiatives to make our city safe and to remove the ‘fear’ of visiting any area.

Advocate to deal with the neglect of basic services a local government should provide such as water, sewage and roads. We must step up and deal with the multi-million-dollar infrastructure deficit.

I want to restore good governance to Victoria, not to sit at the council table with specific agendas. My vision is to be an effective city councillor is a person who represents and respects “all” people, a person who isn’t working to score political points for re-election, but someone who provides leadership that is inclusive, visionary, and respectful.

Darlene Archibald

1. Accessible City – Collaborating with the AccessibilityWG, using their guiding principles while tracking accessibility and filling the gaps where changes can be made. Shared roadways and a connected transit route throughout the region. Creating education and signage that supports all method of transport to share the roads safely and efficiently.

2. Increasing Housing – By increasing the housing stock through changing the rules to protect both renter and landlord. Providing incentives to use available space as rental units while being protective of our green spaces. Densification with community support.

3. Efficient Construction Projects – ensuring the possibility of success by revisiting projects already set in place, and future projects, to ensure that their construction does not negatively impact the livelihood of local businesses or the enjoyment of homeowners or renters.

By Fostering a Healthy Happy City – by having People be aware of the impact of our actions.

Laurel Collins

1. The housing crisis

2. Climate and environmental protection

3. Improving consultation

We are currently facing a housing crisis and we are at a critical time for our environment. I’ve been actively engaged in community organizing to support affordable housing, to protect our watersheds and our coast, and to stand up for social and environmental justice. It is essential that we elect councillors willing to implement courageous policies to address these challenges. Just building more luxury condos is not going to fix housing, and Together Victoria has a detailed plan to address the housing crisis available on our website. We also have a concrete climate leadership plan. It is not enough to set ambitious targets and leave actions for future generations; we must take action immediately. In addition, to have policies that truly serve our residents, we need to help our communities play an active role in shaping our city.

Sharmarke Dubow

1. Ensuring affordable housing across all income levels

2. Improving city and regional infrastructure and ensuring residents, the business community and neighborhood associations play an important role in city planning and budgeting

3. Creating inclusive and safe communities

I’m running for Victoria City council because I believe in leadership that is able to bring people together and listen to different perspectives. Through my community work, I have developed the necessary skills to build bridges and connect people — skills I want to bring to City Hall.

Victoria is experiencing rapid change and growth, but we need to ensure that this growth benefits all Victoria residents, including the most vulnerable. In particular, I will take bold action to address Victoria’s affordable housing crisis. The housing market in this city is very challenging right now, with high rental prices and a less than 1 per cent rental vacancy rate.

Steve Filipovic

1. Create Equity-Gaining Housing Strategies

2. Create Reasonable Services for Homelessness

3. Develop a higher standard for Accountability

Home ownership is the most cost effective form of housing, I advocate for the city to use some of the $400 million public investment budgets to partner with working families and individuals to help lower the barriers to home ownership. The city would benefit from its investments in housing and the people would benefit by being enabled to build equity for their future. This program is not a hand out but a hand up, renters have about 60 per cent equity in the public investment budgets as they pay their city taxes through their rent. By partnering renters with the city we can make a self-propelled housing engine. This program would go a long way into reducing the inequity in our society and taking the pressure off the rental market. As renters shift into ownership, their present rental accommodations become available. This should start to lower the price of rental accommodations, benefiting everyone.

Marg Gardiner

1. Bring community voice back to City Hall through meaningful consultation

2. Apply “zero-based” lens to program budgeting

3. Open Official Community Plan dialogue re: Local Area Plan, Large/Small “Urban” Villages, social housing and rental-ownership targets

Our community is fractured. The City must regain the trust of residents and social licence to move forward, to have real discussions on growth, affordability, fiscal responsibility, ageing infrastructure, environment and climate change, safety in public spaces and open use of illicit drugs. Quality of life issues need to be brought to the fore while we grapple with homelessness. As your councillor, I will make decisions based on evidence, and ensure resident and local business voices are heard. I have proven commitment to forwarding public interest, and to change. I will bring balance to City council. Strong neighbourhoods make a strong city.

Riga Godron

1. Stop the gentrification of Victoria by legislating affordable housing into each new development.

2. Build bridges to facilitate public private partnerships to upgrade the events the city sponsors to ensure better fiscal management.

3. Bring voice to council of the demographics that are not currently enfranchised by making decisions based on majority mandate.

James Harasymow

Did not respond

Rose Henry

I came to Victoria 32 years ago as a single parent wanting to pursue an education. Along the journey, I have witnessed a huge gentrification of our capital city that has made living here a serious challenge for a lot of low income to middle-class residents.

I would like to help make Victoria more affordable to live in by supporting a rental program that would put a cap on rental rates.

I would like to see more local small businesses owned and run by local residents and promoting local produces.

I have to be honest about the school trustees and the responsibilities they have. I don’t know enough about this group’s service. But if it has anything to do with accessibility to school and improving the quality of for Indigenous students or students with disabilities then I would do my best to advocate for them and encourage parents to get more involved with their children’s education

Ben Isitt

1. Affordable Housing

2. Sustainable Transportation

3. Strong Neighbourhoods

I will make Victoria a better place by continuing to advance social justice, environmental stewardship and good government as a City councillor and CRD Director. I’ve worked hard at the grassroots level my entire adult life standing up for people and the planet, and I continue to apply this perspective as an elected official.

With your support, we can continue building an inclusive, sustainable city and region, where no one is left behind and where we look after and clean up the natural environment that sustains us all. I encourage you to visit my website BenIsitt.ca and get involved in this election – by taking a lawn sign, volunteering to help and voting for progressive values and progressive candidates on Oct. 20. Thank you for your support.

Jesse Jimenez

1. Have a real municipal identity for Victoria.

2. Have Victoria fully control its transportation.

3. Have Victoria focus on long term solutions and not short term fancy ideas.

I could make Victoria a better place by focusing on real issues. We need to address that there are students going to school hungry. We need to have long term economic systems that will generate a decent income for families. So, we need to attract and build industries that will promulgate the prosperity idea with least damage to our environment.

We also need to address the situation of individuals earning income in Victoria and taking it to their homes in our neighboring communities. We should benefit from the money that is earned in our city. In this fashion, even the small local business will grow rather than stagnate or collapse.

Randie Johal

1. Transportation

2. Homelessness

3. Affordability

I would make our municipality a better place by:

1) Increasing/promoting bus transportation, with our main objective of encouraging the single-occupant driver to ride transit. There could be a cost analysis on making bus service free for all k-12 children with financing through provincial or federal funds. In addition, we could look at Camosun and UVic passes being approved as a yearly pass rather than per semester.

2) Increasing immediately, temporary shelters with an invite to all regional municipalities to work together to increase the supply. There would be a long-term strategy for permanent housing for the homeless with a goal for success in transitional options to supported housing.

3) Increasing our affordable housing supply by streamlining secondary and garden suite approvals through city hall. Providing a city advocate to work with the homeowners on compliance for permitting and design requirements. Giving the homeowners priority for this initiative.

Edison Kahakauwila

Did not respond

Anna King

1. Housing – Victoria needs to increase development of two to three bedroom suites for suitable for families through gentle density zoning. Upgrading single detached homes into duplexes, multi-unit suites and townhouse complexes in all neighbourhoods will increase the overall supply. To reduce demand, Victoria needs to dis-incentivize leaving homes empty and non-local investment home purchases.

2. Transportation and Walkability – Adding reflective paint and raised lane markers will provide better visibility and safety outside the downtown core and connect the network of bike lanes. Partnering with the CRD, dedicated bus lanes for rush hour and GPS on buses will make taking public transit more convenient and reliable. Wider, well-lit sidewalks and a pedestrian-only Government Street are further ways Victoria can be more vibrant and walkable.

Sean Leitenberg

1. Fiscal responsibility

2. Affordable housing for working families and those that require subsidized housing

3. Appropriate development based on community input

Sean Leitenberg is a businessman with a social conscience and over 30 years of successful business experience. Sean wants to help lead Victoria’s City Hall as a fiscally responsible organization that is transparent and inclusive of its citizens.

Sean will use his experience, along with neighbourhood consultation to build affordable housing for both the working families of Victoria and those in need of social assistance.

Our streets will be safe and clean. He will build a sustainable city and be accountable for his decisions and ensure the right choices are made. Sean will ensure your tax dollars are efficiently used. Victoria’s budget and growth will be handled in a business-like manner with projects done on time and on budget without excuses.

Sean is committed to making Victoria an affordable place to live.

Grace Lore

1. Housing

2. Childcare

3. A vibrant city for local business, arts, and recreation

I am running to bring new energy and fresh perspective to Victoria city council. If elected, I will work to make sure there is space in Victoria for families. We need more affordable and attainable housing, we need housing that fits families and works for our neighbourhoods. We also need more emergency housing – if elected, I will work to build low-barrier recovery housing for those seeking or leaving treatment and emergency shelters for families vulnerable to housing.

I will also work to establish a city-wide childcare action plan to ensure that we are doing everything we can to create, maintain and support before and after school, as well as infant and toddler care. Families, communities, and our city’s local businesses need action on this issue now.

Jeremy Loveday

1. Fight for affordable living: ensure everyone has access to housing, childcare, transportation options, and recreational opportunities.

2. Build a sustainable city: protect the natural environment, take climate action, and build strong neighbourhoods that are served by parks and green spaces.

3. Cultivate healthy communities: invest in libraries, community centres, arts and culture, and prioritize meaningful public consultation.

Victoria is a great place to live, but it is getting harder for many residents to make ends meet. As someone who grew up in Victoria and wants to raise a family here, I care deeply about finding solutions to the affordability crisis that build community and allow residents to thrive. If re-elected, I will make sure the development process works better for residents and creates affordable and appropriate housing for families, seniors, and working people. I will work hard to protect and enhance what makes Victoria so special: our natural environment, unique neighbourhoods, and vibrant communities. I will continue to be an accessible and independent City councillor who solves problems, thinks critically, and provides effective leadership. Please go to jeremyloveday.ca to learn more or to get involved. I hope I can count on your vote on Oct. 20 for Victoria City council and the CRD Board.

Pam Madoff

1. Retaining existing affordable housing and creating new affordable units

2. Community involvement in the development process

3. Maintaining and expanding parks and green space, supporting heritage preservation and arts and culture

By working to ensure that all neighbourhoods contain a wide diversity of housing types, in particular, affordable housing. Creating opportunities for affordable and market affordable units to be included in new developments. We are experiencing a housing crisis, in particular, related to affordability. With Victoria having been identified as one of the world’s top luxury markets we have to work consistently, and strategically, to ensure that working-class residents can afford to live in Victoria. We should also be looking for opportunities to create child care facilities in new projects. The cost of housing, combined with that of child care, can be cripplingly expensive for families. With an expanding population access to parks and green space becomes increasingly necessary.

Delmar Martay

Platform objectives:

Fully funding the solutions and solving the problems so we stop spending money on bandaid management.

By improving our local economy and facilitating trade with Securrency. Municipal voting for 16-year-olds, driver training in Grades 11 and 12. Trades education included for employment by graduation.

Sarah Potts

1. Make our city more affordable by implementing Together Victoria’s bold housing plan.

2. Build an inclusive city where all people feel welcome and more voices are included in city plans.

3. Improve fiscal discipline at City Hall by spending our limited resources on the biggest impact items.

Representation matters and delivers effective policies. I will make Victoria a better place by bringing the perspective of many who have traditionally been underrepresented. I am a single, working parent of a school aged child. Like over half of Victoria, I rent. Right now, only one renter sits on council. I am a member of the LQBTQI2s community. I work at Our Place Society, alongside those most directly affected by the housing crisis and the overdose epidemic. The city has been missing the mark on affordability, homelessness, and supporting families. I know my experience will help deliver practical, effective, solutions rooted in experience.

Andrew Reeve

1. Downtown revitalization and future-forward city planning

2. Fiscal responsibility and management

3. Government accountability and evidence-based decision making

I would bring a fresh perspective to council along with my experience in political advocacy and local volunteering, my skill set from working in higher levels of government, and my knowledge from an education in Political Science at UVic. I was the director of communications and government relations for the trust for sustainable development, and as a result, I have a deep understanding of development as well as the need for sustainability and environmental initiatives. As a volunteer, I am the chairman of Threshold Housing Society, an organization that provides at-risk youth with transitional housing and life skills. That provides me with unique insights on the homelessness issue. My vision for Victoria is a healthy and livable, amalgamated city with efficient service delivery, a balanced budget, transparent governance, and a vibrant and accessible downtown core. Everyone will feel safe and welcome. It is where I hope to raise a family.

Jordan Reichert

1. Support the creation of a diversity of more affordable housing.

2. Advocate for more mental health services and addictions treatment beds.

3. Develop an affordable, reliable, and low-carbon transportation network.

Being born, raised, and living in Victoria, I will make our community a better place by being an independent and balanced voice that protects the identity of our communities, while bringing a bold approach to addressing housing, affordability, and poverty.

I will empower our neighbourhoods to represent their interests, while creating meaningful opportunities for community participation and place making. I will connect people to each other with a more reliable, affordable, and low-carbon transportation network. I will support our world class arts, culture, and heritage and help it flourish. I am proud to be the only candidate running who will represent people, animals, and the environment in our community to create a compassionate Victoria for all.

Ted Smith

Did not respond

Douglas Stewart

1. John A. Macdonald’s statue should be returned to City Hall.

2. Overdevelopment will kill the character of Victoria.

3. Cruise ships should be required to spend an entire day in port.

4. A vibrant downtown starts with an accessible downtown.

5. A homeowner should be allowed to operate an Airbnb from May to August only if they agree to host an out-of-town student from September to April.

6. Scrap the proposed bike lane along Dallas Road. It will take out sixty parking spots and lead to more congestion.

7. Less virtue signalling at City Hall and more practical solutions.

8. We need to pause and review recent development decisions. How can we do better going forward?

9. Affordable housing will never be achieved by building luxury condos.

10. Victoria’s natural beauty should not be taken for granted.

William Tate

1. Ensure that the statue of John A. McDonald gets displayed in a prominent place, which the founding father of Canada deserves, such as the museum or legislative grounds.

2. Insist on 25 per cent affordable housing included in any high-rise development, and protecting renters from renovictions.

3. Address homelessness by providing housing, including building homes and acquiring vacancies, for the temporary homeless, rehabilitation for the addicted, and mental health services for the mentally ill.

Controlling the development of the inner city, supporting the arts, and improving traffic will enhance Victoria living.

Charlayne Thornton-Joe

1. Solutions for homelessness, mental health and addictions.

2. Housing to address all needs.

3. Safety and perception of safety for all.

The Victoria Vital Signs recently revealed that the top issues that concerned those in the region were issues of affordability, housing, homelessness, mental illness and transportation. Those who speak to me who reside in the City of Victoria echo this sentiment. We have made some strides but we are in constant catch up mode. With more funding now coming forward from other levels of government, working together with these partners will help address many of these issues. I hope to have the opportunity to continue to serve the community and work on concerns that matter to them. We know that change is inevitable but finding the right balance of change and what citizens value and love about their community is the key. On Oct. 20, please vote and I hope you will save one vote for me, Charlayne Thornton-Joe.

Geoff Young

1. Listen to public voices on zoning, development and other major decisions

2. Keep budgets under control to make living in the city affordable

3. Reduce the impact of homelessness

We are lucky to live in Victoria but we face challenges. Affordable housing, effective transportation, development pressures on residential neighbourhoods and keeping downtown an attractive and affordable place to live, work and shop are some of the more pressing. Meeting these challenges will require a council that brings both experience and new ideas to the table.

Victorians will decide how they want their city made better. I believe in hearing from Victorians and thoughtfully considering input before making decisions. I have listened when people said they wanted more discussion on public issues.

While not everyone will agree with every decision I have made I have been consistent in arguing for the right of citizens to have their voices heard.

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