Lisa Helps was officially welcomed into city hall as the new mayor of Victoria this morning
And Helps is already getting down to work.
Helps said the most important order of business is establishing a strategic plan for the city by the end of February.
“That guides everything,” said Helps. “Having a strategic plan that’s proactive, forward-looking and lays the ground for the next four years is a number one priority. If we don’t do that and we don’t do it well, then we’re all [going to] be all over the map and not have any cohesion to our actions.”
Along with the strategic plan, Helps also said she plans to deal directly with the Johnson Street Bridge and sewage treatment issues.
In terms of sewage, Helps said she has already started to see if Victoria can work together with Oak Bay and Saanich.
With no construction on the Johnson Street Bridge since July, Helps said it is a matter of getting mediation out of the way and finished.
“It’s basically getting the project back on track and trying to reset the relationship between all the players,” she said. “The process leading up to the awarding of the contract and the contract itself, in my opinion, didn’t serve the city that well and so now that’s the legacy I’m left with and I have to deal with that.”
In order to effectively deal with these issues, Helps said it is important that both council members and the public are engaged in meaningful conversations.
“It’s going to take a willingness to be open, particularly at the council table,” said Helps. “What I think it comes down to is creating a culture where everybody actually feels heard.”
Helps said it is important to set that kind of tone from the beginning.
“The election was, in some ways a reset button for governance in the region,” she said. “I believe we’re in a new era in the city of Victoria and in the region.”
Helps said her goal during her time as mayor is to create opportunities for everyone in the city to prosper.
“I see the city as a complex organism and there are no simple solutions to any of the things that face us. What we need to do is look for solutions that address all of the issues in their complexity, and I think that the people living the issues and the people in the community are in the best position to help us with that.”