Transportation, housing and community building loom large on the political agendas of local mayors.
Speaking with Black Press, the mayors of Saanich (Fred Haynes), Victoria (Lisa Helps), Oak Bay (Kevin Murdoch), Esquimalt (Barb Desjardins), Colwood (Rob Martin), View Royal (David Screech) and Metchosin (John Ranns) shared their top political priorities for 2019.
While some of their answers highlighted specific issues in their respective communities, others spoke to regional issues that cut across municipal boundaries, with transportation perhaps emerging as the most important one.
“Traffic congestion is affecting people’s quality of life,” said Martin. “We need the determination to follow through on existing plans, the courage to invest in innovative solutions, and the foresight to plan for shifting technologies.” Helps agreed. “We need an integrated multi-model transportation network that is convenient, green and affordable,” she said.
Desjardins and Screech specifically mentioned the restoration of the E&N Railway line as a possible solution, with Screech repeating familiar demands for a regional transport authority.
Speaking for many of his colleagues, Haynes said if he could change one aspect of Greater Victoria it would be to improve the housing supply and make that his top priority of 2019.
Haynes said he would also like to improve services for residents, a point Murdoch and Helps echoed when they spoke of the need to build community.
Climate change also appears high on the agendas of the two mayors representing the region’s two largest municipalities — Saanich and Victoria.
If the seven mayors broadly agreed on the big issues facing the region, they disagreed on which political personality (other than Premier John Horgan) had the greatest influence on Greater Victoria.
Desjardins and Haynes identified provincial finance minister Carole James as the “most influential politician living in Greater Victoria not named John Horgan.”
Murdoch identified local MLA and provincial Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, while Screech favoured federal Green party leader Elizabeth May. Ranns identified Desjardins, while Helps identified Saanich Coun. Colin Plant, who recently assumed the chairperson-ship of the Capital Regional District. Martin, meanwhile, identified the South Island Prosperity Project.