Gary Beyer has seen a lot of change over his five decades of living in Victoria.
He wants to make sure it keeps heading in the right direction, so the local business owner has announced his intention to run for the mayoral seat in the October municipal election.
“I want to leave Victoria better than when I got here,” he says of the city he has called home since the 1960s.
A run at a council seat in the ’90s garnered Beyer some 500 votes. But this time around he feels his near constant presence on the streets of his neighbourhood – the owner of Tesseract 2.0 Computer Systems and Services lives and works downtown – is what makes him a good candidate.
“Talking to those people, they will get a better understanding of who you are,” he says, rather than hoping a tweet reaches a couple thousand screens.
But, in this day and age, social media is a necessary evil, he adds.
Victoria isn’t unique in the problems it faces – growth, affordability, fiscal responsibility – but council has a duty to ensure each issue is addressed in the interest of Victorians, Beyer says.
No one has come forward with a focused plan on housing, he continues, and building our way into affordability never works.
“The way they’re doing it isn’t working,” he says of council. “We’re building more and more buildings and they’re getting more and more expensive.”
Beyer wants to see the bureaucratic timeline improve on getting developments moving, as well as a smaller, more cohesive model for tackling homelessness and helping those who struggle with addiction – pointing to Anawim House as a good example.
“We’re trying to fit every individual who may have been homeless, into a box, and you can’t. Each individual has different needs. You’re not helping these people by having them in central care.”
Council is seen to be doing nothing, and perception is everything, he stresses.
On the hot topics, he’s honest. Beyer is in favour of amalgamation, says bike lanes are improving the city and recognizes the working poor are a growing population as the city’s identity evolves.
“We need to look at the City’s finances – how we’re spending money – and we need to stop wasting money,” he says. “I think I can make a difference and I think I can best do that as mayor.”
The municipal election is Oct. 20. To date, three candidates have declared their intention to run for mayor, including incumbent Lisa Helps and newcomers Rob Duncan and Sean Leitenberg.