Victoria mayor eyes increased economic prosperity for city in 2015

Two of the main projects she wants on track in 2015 are the Johnson Street bridge and a sewage treatment plan.

With a new year comes new goals, new perspectives and a chance for a fresh start.

For Victoria, 2015 will bring times of increased economic prosperity, says Mayor Lisa Helps and Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Carter.

“I think [it is] important [to] get cracking on some of the things that people elected us to do,” said Helps. “For me, it’s economic development, affordability and prosperity.”

In every area, Helps would like to see bolder action and change.

“I would like to see us as a city expand on our sense of the possible,” said Helps. “Victoria is a very very conservative place, and I would like to see us lift up our gaze a little bit.”

Two of the main projects Helps wants to have on track in 2015 are the Johnson Street bridge and a sewage treatment plan.

When asked if she thought there was hope of those two issues being resolved in 2015, Helps said, “Yes, oh my goodness if not, fire me now. No, seriously.”

Part of fostering economic development and prosperity is creating more affordable housing, said Helps.

“I think affordability and prosperity are two sides of the same coin. If you don’t have a home, you can’t have an opportunity to prosper.”

Helps added that 2015 will be a key year in moving forward with affordable housing because it is a federal election year.

“The federal government has a huge role to play in helping to create affordable housing. In 1989, the federal government spent $115 in Canada per person on affordable housing; and in 2014, the federal government spends $58 per person on affordable housing.”

Helps said she wants to start a campaign to go back to 1989 funding levels.

Besides lobbying the federal government, Helps said there are steps that can be taken at the municipal level.

“The proposal that I would like to see enacted . . . is [to] partner with 10 building owners and ask them to designate 10 per cent of their units that are already built [as] affordable,” said Helps, adding that people will not be kicked out of their apartments, but affordable units would be created as vacancies arise. In exchange, property owners would receive a partial property tax exemption to make up for their loss in rent.

Another change Helps hopes to see in 2015 is a continued effort to fill downtown vacancies.

Carter said Victoria is challenged by too much retail space.

“We need our economy to improve in order to fill that demand. Once that’s done. Then we’ll look at filling those retail spaces that are vacant,” he said, adding that the best way to fill retail space is by attracting more customers, especially in the shoulder seasons.

One of the main issues Carter would like to see taken care of in 2015 is the degradation of the Belleville terminal.

“I think we’re going to see a solution to the challenges at the Belleville Street terminal. There’s been a lot of work with the Ministry [of Transportation] to do that. They’ve recognized that there are some structural challenges they need to address, and I think they’re going to address those next year.”

If predictions come true, 2015 will bring more prosperity for the residents and business owners in Victoria than 2014 did.

“Residents should look forward to a very proactive and responsive city council and an opportunity for them to take part in some new ways,” said Helps. “And I think our business community can look forward to actually starting to see some of the changes they’ve been looking for for a long time in terms of help and support.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich council supports mayor’s call to reinstate non-police security for mental health patients at hospitals

Saanich police spent nearly 1,200 hours waiting with patients at hospitals in 2020

A new round of COVID-19 exposures has been reported at Dunsmuir Middle School, with potential exposure dates on April 7 to 15. (Google Streetview/Screenshot)
New COVID-19 exposures reported at Colwood middle school

People may bave been exposed on April 7 to 15

A total of 10 flight exposures have affected the Victoria International Airport in April so far, making it the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hits record-breaking number of monthly COVID-19 flight exposures

As of April 21, 10 flight exposures reported for the month

It’s time to upgrade Metchosin’s connectivity, some residents are saying. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
Petition signals desire for Metchosin cellphone coverage

It’s crazy for a Victoria suburb to be a dead-cell zone, petition writer said

Bill Almond’s observatory in its new home on a Saanich lakeside. (Submitted/Cameron Burton)
Colwood stargazing dome makes a move to Saanich

The backyard structure finds a new home after 30 years

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read