The City of Victoria is holding a byelection on Dec. 12 to fill the councillor seat left vacant by Laurel Collins when she became the MP for Victoria.
Victoria News asked the 11 candidates: What do you believe are the biggest issues facing Victoria? Their answers follow below in alphabetical order.
Stephen Andrew – Victoria News did not receive an answer back from this candidate by press deadline.
Rob Duncan – I see the biggest issues facing Victoria as housing – in particular, the residential rental market crisis and the problem of homelessness – and the planetary climate emergency. The rental market crisis can be alleviated through introduction of vacancy controls and expansion of the city’s inclusive zoning policy. The homelessness crisis should be addressed with purpose-built housing designed to meet the needs of people in supported housing, rather than repurposed old motels. I suggest a wide variety of initiatives the city should undertake to address the climate crisis, from electrifying the bus system to banning gas-powered leaf blowers.
Riga Godron – Victoria News did not receive an answer back from this candidate by press deadline.
Stefanie Hardman – COVID has driven the largest public health and economic crisis in a century, making it difficult for residents and small businesses to make ends meet. The pandemic is exacerbating challenges we were already facing. Families are waiting years for childcare. Seniors and others on fixed incomes are being left behind. Housing prices continue to increase, pushing people out of our city. Hundreds of people now shelter in parks because of the shortage of affordable housing. I believe we can rebuild our city to be stronger than before COVID — but only if we work together for a just and sustainable recovery.
Bill Heflin – The biggest issues are: Public safety – We need to clean up our parks and streets. No one likes being accosted by a mentally challenged person or a substance abuser. Council should step back and let the professionals we hire deal with these people. A complete ban on camping in our public spaces is necessary. Let us house people by nature of their problems. Zoning – Huge developments are being approved without adequate consideration of improvements to infrastructure. We have had water rationing before. Proper green space and green building should be required.
Jason Heit – has announced his intention to withdraw and says he is instead endorsing Stephen Andrew rather than risk splitting the vote. However, Heit’s name will still appear on the ballot.
Sean Leitenberg – I believe safety is the most important issue facing Victoria today. To achieve this, we must support the Victoria Police Department. Camping is not a solution for the homeless. Specialized housing for drug addicts and a safe environment for those requiring additional support needs to be built. Victoria needs affordable housing for our working families. We must help rebuild the downtown. Shop owners are now helpless to stop theft from their establishments or to get locals downtown. I know how difficult it can be to keep the doors open. With each business lost, so are jobs and tax revenue.
Hailey Mcleod – I think the biggest issue facing Victoria is affordability. We must be do everything we can to make sure people’s basic human needs around housing are met. Some things we can do include using mixed-use zoning to increase housing densities outside of the downtown core, restricting Airbnbs to greatly increase the current supply of long-term housing, and making sure affordable housing projects receive support and that they are actually affordable. We also have to work with the provincial government to fund social housing programs, transitional housing, and mental health services for those currently in unhoused.
Keith Rosenberg – has announced his intention to withdraw but missed the deadline to officially do so. His name will still appear on the ballot, although he is not campaigning.
Alexander Schmid – Among the many issues facing Victoria, the crime rate ranks high in the minds of citizens. The Victoria Census for the Metropolitan Area (CMA) reported the second-largest rise in the crime severity index (CSI) of all CMAs in Canada. We are actually leading the country in terms of property and drug crime. These are related, since addiction to drugs leads to break-ins. Yet there are suggestions in some quarters to de-fund the police! I will oppose such absurdities. As for the addiction problem, it can only be solved by recognizing it and treating it as a medical issue.
Roshan Vickery – The greatest issues in Victoria are the lack of affordable housing, the ongoing homelessness crisis, and lack of small business support. The homelessness crisis has intensified due to the pandemic compounded with the ongoing opioid crisis. The lack of affordable housing is another concern created by commodification and market forces that have made the city unlivable for many. Finally, Victoria’s small business community is contending with ruthless external forces created by the pandemic, exorbitant property taxes and the sudden disappearance of tourism. As a city councillor, I will work to solve these issues with compassion and reason.
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Advanced polling available
ahead of Dec. 12
There are eight advanced days of voting, all of which will be held at Crystal Garden Dec. 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Dec. 2 and 7 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
On Dec. 12, eligible voters can vote at any of the following locations: James Bay Community School, Oaklands Elementary School, Sir James Douglas Elementary School, Da Vinci Centre, Crystal Garden or at Victoria High School. An accessible voting machine will also be at Crystal Garden on general voting day.
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