(From left to right) Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria; Catherine Holt, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce; Jeff Bray, CEO of the Downtown Victoria Business Association; and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. The four community leaders presented on topics such as labour, transportation, housing and climate change during an all candidates listening session at the Victoria Conference Centre. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Federal candidates hear Greater Victoria priorities at listening session

Local leaders address MP-hopefuls on labour, housing and more

Greater Victoria kicked off the first official day of the federal campaign season with a listening session for candidates from the region’s electoral districts.

Elected officials and community leaders gathered at the Victoria Conference Centre Wednesday evening for a session outlining the region’s priorities heading into Canada’s 43rd general election.

READ ALSO: With federal election called, parties unleash campaigns in Ontario, Quebec and B.C.

The meeting covered six key priorities as they pertain to Greater Victoria: labour, transportation, childcare, housing, climate change and reconciliation. The panel navigated the complex issues with succinct and focused presentations, finishing each with “asks” for the federal government and the potential MPs dotting the lecture theatre.

Covering climate change, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps suggested the federal government mandate climate change action plans from Canadian cities with details on how each local government will help Canada meet climate change targets.

Helps also echoed a sentiment she’s shared before.

“Cities need more power, more money and more authority to effectively deal with climate change,” she said.

READ ALSO: Elizabeth May predicts ‘likely’ more Greens elected in Greater Victoria

Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria, advised immigration and training as paths forward for progress in Greater Victoria’s labour and workforce, a sentiment echoed by Catherine Holt, CEO of the Greater Victoria’s Chamber of Commerce.

Holt, in her presentation on childcare, called the current situation “abysmal,” noting the lack of childcare spaces and cost of care. She asked the candidates to consider the impacts of increased investments, remarking that “available and affordable childcare has a direct impact on parents’ ability to work in our region.”

READ ALSO: City of Victoria looking into citywide Childcare Action Plan

Jeff Bray, CEO of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, honed in on housing and affordability, an issue he said “requires leadership from all levels of government.”

He asked the federal representatives to continue implementing the national housing strategy, extend support for Indigenous housing options and create tax incentives encouraging private sector investment in rental housing.

READ ALSO: Average housing prices would have to drop by $413,000 for Victoria to become affordable

After a brief question period, a handful of MP candidates took the stage. Candidates from the Green party, NDP, Liberal party, People’s Party of Canada and the Animal Protection Party of Canada made their campaign bid to the theatre, each using their two-minute time limit to tell the crowd why they deserve to be voted for.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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