My picks for city of Victoria’s Mayor and Council

BC municipal elections are October 20th. Go vote.

I don’t normally publicize my picks, but the choices this year will make a difference to whether we keep moving forward or move Victoria back to the mid 2000s as far as policy direction is concerned. So, here’s who I’m voting for Mayor and Council

What’s important to me?

  1. Housing and affordability. Who will ensure more housing of the right kind in the right places will get built? Who will fight to provide housing for those hard to house, and fight hard to destigmatize people in need of housing? Who will take responsibility for everyone in Victoria, not just the landed and housed?
  2. Transportation. Victoria is a spatially constrained city that is growing. A car-first approach cannot work. There’s just not enough room for such inefficient use of valuable space. Who will prioritize transit, biking and walking? Who will ensure I can take my toddler on a bike ride without risking life and limb? Who will fight to get bus lanes/rapid transit built? Who will complete our bike network?
  3. Childcare. Who has plans to improve childcare availability in Victoria? Do they have the power to do anything?
  4. Budget priorities. What are they spending on? What will they save on?

My politics are progressive, so my choices will be as well. I was informed by the candidate responses to three questionnaires: one from the Victorians for transportation choice on moving people, one from Cities for Everyone on housing people, and the Times Colonist survey. Of course, I’ve followed the news as well, and responses/attitudes on recent homelessness/harm reduction issues involving tent cities have made a big difference.

Oh look, a Facebook acquaintance made a political compass!

Mayor – Lisa Helps

This one is easy. Lisa Helps is the incumbent and has governed progressively on both housing and on transportation. I don’t know if she’s been aggressive enough on either of these fronts. While this council has presided over the first two protected bike lanes in Victoria, the network is taking a long time to build, and only building the entire network downtown and beyond will get more people cycling. I’ve had issues with poor communication on the bike lanes. The city decided to combine infrastructure upgrades with bike lane building, but that was not well communicated, so bike lanes were blamed for all delays. On housing, while there’s been a lot more building downtown, and rentals as well, much of this is expensive, or not big enough for families. The council has relied too much on market mechanisms and these are inadequate. We need more, and housing in neighbourhoods (NIMBY opposition aside), I have found Lisa Helps to be too deferential to the Police Board, and her actions on the Isner case, I did not support. However, of the candidates, Lisa Helps is by far the best placed to implement policies compatible with my values. Every other candidate, whether it is Mad as Hell Stephen Hammond, or lobbyist Michael Geoghegan, is a big step back. Hammond’s “new council” slate appears to have little specifics on issues, and is defined primarily by opposition to Lisa  Helps. Geoghegan is trying to appear progressive, but I’ve followed him on twitter for years, and, I’m not buying it.


We have a first-past-the post electoral system. You do not have to vote for all councillors. Plumping, or only voting for the candidates you truly support is a valid choice in our imperfect system that does not take ranking of preference into account.

Ben Isitt – Popular and progressive incumbent, ticks most of my boxes. Endorsed by the Labour Council. Ben’s rating on allowing more housing in neighbourhoods is mixed, but overall, on walking, biking and transit, low-income affordability and many other progressive issues, great to have on council. Read more 

Jeremy Loveday – Much the same as Ben, endorsed by the Labour Council. Jeremy’s been a champion voice on all issues I’m concerned about, and a I support him 100% (disclosure: I canvased once for Jeremy as a volunteer in 2014). Read more 

Marianne Alto – I’ve known Marianne Alto to be a thoughtful councillor who will bring experience and continuity to council. Marianne is also endorsed by the Labour Council. I have written endorsements for her in previous elections Read more 

Sharmarke Dubow, Sarah Potts and Laurel Collins (Together Victoria) – I’m excited about this progressive slate. I know Sharmarke, and have met the others as well. Their passion, energy and attention to detail stand out. Their platform is detailed and moves Victoria forward. We need the voices of younger people, renters (generation squeeze, as it were) on council. They are endorsed by the labour council and promise to move Victoria in a direction I would greatly approve off. Read more 

Grace Lore – I have not met Grace, but she comes highly recommended from people I trust, and puts families with young children front and centre of her platform. She is endorsed by the Victoria Labour Council as well. Grace fits in the same voter bucket as Together Victoria candidates, so there’s going to be some vote-splitting here. Read more 

I respect Charlayne Thornton-Joe’s work on council, and depending on how I feel on election day (and about plumping), she would be my 8th vote.

Pam Madoff is very experienced, but her approach on housing and prioritizing the preservation of houses over people does not find my support. Geoff Young is an experienced councillor, but not on my list, and it’s likely at least two out of these three incumbents will get in on name recognition and incumbency power anyway.

I would love for someone like Rose Henry to be on council, but she has been running for a long time and does not have the organization, resources, or momentum to get there. :(

Marg Gardiner has a respected resume and active involvement with the James Bay Neighbourhood Association that would make for a good councillor. But, her page on active transportation seems symptomatic of what her approach to council would be. She starts with supporting active transportation in the abstract, then compiles a garbage bag of bike lane complaints, some reasonable, some discredited, and some nonsensical into a rambling write-up on what did not work with “biketoria”. Pertinently, no improvements are suggested, just more “consultation”, mostly meaningless, and “bike lanes that work for neighbourhoods”. I don’t know what that means. Downtown is most likely our fastest growing neighbourhood, and that’s where most of the protected bike lanes are coming in! Overall I found her approach to bike lanes disappointing and it resulted in her losing my vote. I read the rest of her webpage and did not change my mind.

The New Council slate of Andrew, Johal, Reeve and Alberts do not align with my values, policy preferences, tone, and so much more, I’ll just leave it at that.1

Good luck this election to all candidates. And also to us.

  1.  In looking at this slate, I see it lines up with the Victoria Labour Council, except, they did not endorse a mayor in Victoria.


  1. Well said Bharat! I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts publicly. Hopefully it helps more folks make an informed choice on October 20.

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