Council chambers were full Thursday morning as the City of Victoria’s new city council and re-elected mayor were sworn into office.
The ceremonial meeting began with a performance by the Lekwungen dancers and was followed by a blessing from Coun. Garry Sam of the Songhees Nation, and a reading from Victoria’s Poet Laureate Yvonne Baker.
Mayor and council were sworn in by regional administrative Judge Carmen Rogers, followed by a speech by the Very Reverend Ansley Tucker, who emphasized the importance of hope, faith and love.
Mayor Lisa Helps then read her inaugural speech, where she outlined four pillars of priority for the next four years, including affordability, climate change/climate action, well-being and prosperity, and establishing a citizen’s assembly. Of the four, Helps said one would not be prioritized over the others.
“We live in a city as whole people, so we have to govern as whole people. If somebody has no house to live in but we’re taking action on climate change that doesn’t really help everyone,” Helps said. “Those four key things are what we’ve heard that we need to work on, and that’s where we’ll be digging in.”
Five councillors returned to their roles: Coun. Ben Isitt, Coun. Jeremy Loveday, Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe and Coun. Geoff Young. Three new councillors were voted in including Coun. Sarah Potts, Coun. Laurel Collins and Coun. Sharmarke Dubow.
“I hope council moves forward quickly and decisively to build a more inclusive and sustainable community,” Isitt said. “I think that’s the mandate that voters have given us and that’s an obligation we now have to not waste time, to not be too cautious and think move forward with bold action to make the city more affordable, more sustainable and more inclusive for everyone.”
Potts mirrored Isitt’s comments and alluded to upcoming motions in next week’s meeting.
“We’ve already identified affordable housing as something major that we want to address and I think that with this team we’ll be able to get to that work,” said Potts, who has worked as the volunteer manager at Our Place. “What I’ve heard on the doorstep over and over on the campaign was a lack of affordable family housing, a lack of affordable rental stock for families, so that’s something I’d like to address right away at the first meeting.”
In their inaugural meeting, the first motion put forward and passed was to appoint Helps, Loveday and Young as CRD directors, with Collins and Alto as alternates.
The first regular council meeting will be next Thursday, Nov. 8.
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