Ida Chong was born and raised in Victoria as one of eight children born to a father who was Canadian born and a mother who emigrated from China. She grew up very modestly with a father who was a labourer in the shipbuilding industry. Her parents instilled in her the value of hard work and perseverance, the importance of family, the need to plan, save and not spend more than you have. In 1984 Ida became a Certified General Accountant and that same year formed the first all-female accounting firm with a high school friend. She practiced in this small business for nearly twenty years before entering public service as a Saanich City Councillor in 1993. In 2006 she was made a “Fellow” of the CGA Society of BC and this year was elected as a life member of the Society, which is its highest honour. Ida was elected as an MLA in 1996 and served four terms. She was appointed to cabinet and served as a cabinet minister over several ministries. She was also honoured to serve on Treasury Board where she had to ask tough financial questions and scrutinize spending requests. Her largest ministerial budget was $1.9 billion. She has always been community minded and currently serves on the University of Victoria Board of Governors, the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival Society board of directors and is a member of the board of the Rick Hansen Foundation.
Why should I vote for you?
Victoria is the Capital City of British Columbia. It has a rich history and a tremendous future. However, I am concerned about current leadership’s disrespect for the taxpayer. I have seen property tax rates grow by 34 per cent in the past six years. Someone with a $500,000 house paid $1,670 to the City of Victoria in 2008 and is now paying $2,235, If the current mayor is re-elected will be paying $2,630 at the end of his next term.
What is most concerning is that taxes haven’t gone up to support important services and programs. They have gone up because capital projects like the Blue Bridge replacement, which is now $30 million over budget, have spun out of control.
Add to this is a downtown core that is no longer a source of pride. Vacancy rates have skyrocketed and this has had the effect of creating an environment where seniors, families and tourists are no longer comfortable or feel safe in our downtown. We need to restore pride and energy in our downtown core.
I am running for mayor to get Victoria back on track, to respect the taxpayer and to energize our downtown.
Your main goal if elected?
My overarching goal is to restore respect for the taxpayer. Over the last six years, current leadership has treated the taxpayer’s wallet as though it is the city’s Automated Teller Machine. This must stop.
First, we will freeze property rates at their current levels. We will do this while ensuring critical services such as police, fire, engineering, garbage collection, parks and recreation and other frontline services are protected.
Second, we will energize the downtown core through my fiver year tax exemption for up to 94,000 square feet of heritage office space in downtown’s Old Town. This tax exemption will be available only to new businesses or to businesses moving into Victoria from other municipalities. This will bring up to 900 workers into Victoria’s downtown core, and they will energize our core.
Third, I will end the blue bridge boondoggle. When the city recently hired an outside consultant to review the project, he found that no one was in charge of the project, which is the largest capital project our city has undertaken. If I am elected mayor, I will take over responsibility for this project. I will be held accountable for capping the out of control overruns that have occurred under the current leadership.