Ahead of the Oct. 24 provincial election, the Victoria News asked your candidates what they believe the biggest issues are facing the Victoria-Beacon Hill riding and the province. Here are their responses (in alphabetical order):
Karen Bill – BC Liberal: I believe the most important issues in Victoria Beacon Hill right now are the rapidly increasing levels of homelessness and crime in our neighbourhoods and parks. Everyone deserves to feel safe using our parks and living in our communities.
We must increase mental health and addictions supports, and give police, courts and outreach workers the tools and funding they need to help people transition from tents to housing. Integrated, on-site supports that both assist homeless individuals and protect our communities are urgently required. Warehousing people in tents and hotels is devastating neighbourhoods and local businesses. The balance is off. As a result, our communities are suffering.
A BC Liberal government will end 24/7 camping in our urban parks. We will invest $58 million to hire 200 additional police officers and 100 more psychiatric social workers and nurses. And we will establish integrated mobile crisis response teams to respond to mental health-related emergency calls across the province.
We need to be compassionate and target the underlying causes of homelessness, while at the same time ensuring everyone feels safe in their homes, in our communities, and when using our parks.
Grace Lore – NDP: People across Victoria tell me the most important issue is still COVID-19 and the recovery. People know John Horgan and the BC NDP are taking us through the pandemic safely and trust we will build a recovery that works for everyone. They know their concerns are front and centre of John Horgan and the BC NDP’s plan.
Housing is also a major issue in Victoria-Beacon Hill, for renters, families trying to afford a first home, and people without a home. The BC Liberals neglected housing, except to side with speculators. The result was a province-wide housing crisis.
I’m proud of John Horgan’s record-level investments in affordable and supportive housing and work to take on speculators. There has been amazing progress, but I know first hand there is much more to do. John Horgan and the BC NDP have committed to even more record-level investments in housing for Victoria. My first priority as MLA will be to expedite the short-term solutions (such as housing purchases, shelter for cold months and mental health and addiction supports) while also tackling the longer term solutions such as getting more new housing units built.
People know the stakes are too high to go back. We need to move forward, together.
Jenn Neilson – BC Green: I am a local community organizer who has been successfully advocating for public libraries and green spaces in underserved neighbourhoods for the past several years. You may know me from the Save 950 Kings (formerly Blanshard Elementary) and Victoria Needs a Hillside Library campaigns. This summer I organized the Out There Art Festival, a physically distanced celebration of community and the arts during the pandemic.
I have a PhD in philosophy and am passionate about equity, social justice, and true reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
I’m turning to provincial politics to build resilient communities in the face of the climate crisis, to ensure that our children and their children have a safe world to grow up in.
I will stand with you and work to:
- Invest in affordable and emergency housing, so that everyone has a home with appropriate social care, where they live.
- Take immediate climate action to save the planet for future generations.
- Protect old-growth forests and stop non-renewable resource extraction.
- Respect Indigenous rights and advocate for Indigenous self-determination.
- Provide lifelong access to trauma-informed mental health supports and compassionate harm reduction services.
- Reduce class sizes for social distancing and provide distance learning options for programs of choice, such as French Immersion.
Jordan Reichert – Independent: I believe the biggest issues facing people in Victoria are addictions and homelessness, housing affordability, lack of mental health services and the cost of living.
Improving our relationship with Indigenous communities is also front of mind as well as confronting systemic racism in our past and present. It is inspiring to live in a community where we have strong opposition to hate, discrimination, and social stigma. These are the issues that directly or indirectly affect everyone in our community, no matter what walk of life you are from.
Victoria is also a community that is acutely aware of the urgent need to address the climate crisis. Whether it is locally banning plastic bags, or protecting old growth forests and wildlife, there is a dedicated spirit of resilience among people of all ages to fight for a livable future.
That is why I am running in the provincial election. I want to challenge the status quo politics that led us on this path of ecological destruction and social breakdown. We have the wealth and resources in B.C. to address the issues of our time and I want to bring the political will to the legislature to get the job done.
Election day is Oct. 24 with advance polls open Oct. 15 to 21 from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Find more election coverage online at vicnews.com/tag/bc-votes-2020.
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