Victoria Election 2018: Candidates for Council


By Doreen Marion Gee

Changes are happening at warp speed in our shape-shifting paradise-by-the-ocean. A new bridge; sewage treatment; bike lanes; John A. McDonald's exit; glossy highrises; and luxury condo towers are just a few of the transmutations altering the cityscape and skyline. These new developments can be good or not-so-good, depending on your particular perspective and values. There is only one sure way to exert your power as a local citizen in manifesting the kind of 'Victoria' that you want for the future: by voting in our municipal election on October 20, 2018. Please vote. We need you!

Our election coverage deals with James Bay only. We asked all of the candidates for Mayor and Council to answer the same two questions:

Question: 1) What James Bay issue should have the highest priority? Why?

Question: 2) What’s more important to James Bay – increased density or preserving the neighbourhood?

We hope that their thoughtful answers below will be a valuable tool to help you make informed choices at the voting booth. Please check out their websites, where included, and please be advised that their responses are 'as is' and have not been edited for grammar or content.

Gary Alberts

1) The GVHA and the Cruise Ship industry need to consult with the residents of James Bay. We have 8-10 ships arriving weekly, and probably 30,000 visitors every week, in our neighbourhood during the cruise ship season. I love seeing the visitors enjoying our City, but a concise consultative approach with all stakeholders needs to be developed to manage the tour buses and taxis. The GVHA should not be allowed to build a hotel at Ogden Point, without a CALUC and without a thorough discussion with the JBNA and the City.

2) With proper planning, I believe we can achieve a proper balance. A seventy year old 800 sq ft house can easily be replaced by a nicely designed duplex to accommodate two families. Approving a 12 unit development on two lots on Montreal St does not meet the wishes of the neighbourhood. A New Council must lead consultation that authentically gives neighbourhoods a say in housing.

Marianne Alto-Bond (incumbent)

1) Housing and transportation planning and operation.

Throughout the city, housing stock is not meeting the needs of our growing, changing population. There is no one simple answer to this complex situation. That said, the city has many opportunities to act, each of which will improve the situation. Particularly in James Bay, the city can: Facilitate neighbourhood planning towards measured densification and affordability; Balance growth with affordable options and livability; Grow and support co-operative housing, and offer incentives for developers to build co-op housing; Create incentives (e.g. with expedited city processes, lower fees, tax deferment programs, etc.) for converting larger homes to suites; Pilot a project matching eligible seniors with lodgers in spare rooms; Explore subsidies, tax deferments, and other programs to support new home renters and buyers. This is not an exhaustive list, and innovative ideas are emerging from folk committed to creating housing. Many more ideas are contained in the city’s Housing Affordability plan, which is being implemented step by step, and on my website Transportation is also a key challenge for James Bay – there needs to be more efficient transit service, appropriate traffic calming and routing (in particular with regard to special events and cruise ship traffic), an attention to parking solutions, and easier, more accessible pedestrian connections.

2) I believe you can – and must – do both. Every decision I make strives for balance – James Bay’s existing unique character and history can be preserved while creating new housing in unique forms that complement that character and history while efficiently utilizing available land, adapting existing spaces and re-purposing existing housing stock.

Stephen Andrew

1) I think there are several issues facing James Bay. As I have to pick one it is the development of Ogden Point. The plan needs to include input from people living in the neighbourhood to ensure it integrates with the character of the community.

2) The premise of the question suggests there is all or nothing approach, I do not believe the two options are mutually exclusive. I believe we must preserve all our neighbourhoods and any increased density, must be appropriate, include consultation and careful planning.

Darlene Archibald

We did not receive a response from Ms. Archibald by our press deadline.

Laurel Collins

1) I live in James Bay and the thing I hear the most often is that we need to address housing affordability. We have many seniors on fixed incomes, students, and people with low incomes who are struggling to make ends meet. Young families who are looking for two or three bedrooms, or who would love to buy a home, are being priced out of the market by out-of-town investors. We also need to address homelessness and ensure we have real solutions for people without homes. If we work together, we can build a city that is affordable, inclusive and thriving for everyone.

2) In James Bay, which is already highly densified, it is important that we preserve the existing affordable rental stock and the character of our neighbourhood. For the broader city, both increased density and preserving our neighbourhoods are important. But too often we are increasing density and demolishing affordable rental stock only to build luxury condos or expensive townhouses that most of us can’t afford and that may be used as investments instead of as homes. What we need is for the city to play a more active role in ensuring we have the kind of development that serves our community.

Sharmarke Dubow

1) James Bay shows us the path to affordable, low-rise housing options in a walkable neighbourhood that promotes community and allows seniors to age in place. We must preserve the character of this neighbourhood and prevent the displacement of current residents by new projects. Everywhere I go, I hear the anxiety about increasing rents, especially from people living on fixed incomes. We need solutions that will protect and improve the livability that James Bay residents cherish. Together Victoria’s housing plan includes bringing in a rental zoning bylaw to protect rental housing and requiring family housing in new developments.

2) Neighbourhoods are people, not buildings. Our first priority is to protect, preserve and improve our best examples of strong neighbourhoods, like James Bay, is to ensure that the people who call James Bay home are able to continue to thrive. James Bay has long been home to working families, seniors and has always had some of the highest proportion of renters in the city. If we can trade some density for more homes for seniors and working families, we should consider that choice - but we should not sacrifice housing for ordinary people to make room for luxury condos.

Steve Filipovic

1) Affordability and Inequity, are large issues for our City they affect us all. Wages and incomes for people have remained relatively stable while costs have risen on everything, but none more than at City Hall. In 2001 the Annual Budget was $105 Million a year, now its $242 Million! All this money is being spent every year and yet we still have growing problems that seem neglected. The high cost of housing being a great example of a top issue for decades for which very little has actually been done. The costs to the City for maintaining problems is far more expensive than solving them, and we need to solve them! The burden to Taxpayers has increased substantially over the past few years. Even the new Fire Hall seems to be based on wants instead of needs, the weak justification for a new Fire Hall is concerns about the brick facade possibly trapping the Fire Trucks inside in the event of an Earth Quake, but anybody with any sense of building codes knows this isn't possible! Those bricks are strapped on with specialty hardware set in place during the concrete pour of the main structure. Its Earth Quake Proof! So the Fire Hall is another unneeded Mega Project! In respects to maintaining democratic influence over our City Budgets the biggest priority for James Bay is to help share the stories that make it possible to wrench City Hall out of the hands of the Parties. Why have an NDP Mayor or a Liberal one, they won't stand up to their Provincial counter parts? Statuesque isn't here by accident, the big teams in Victoria are owned by Large Vested Interest Groups, which is why there is a lack of service to regular Citizens. Change is what we are always after, but always denied. Einstein said "Insanity is doing the same thing over & over again and expecting different results!" So let's win those changes we've been seeking in Victoria by doing things differently! Think out loud and with your friends! Democracy is about people talking!

2) Preserving the neighbourhood according to the Community Plan should be City Hall's priority, after all Mayor and Council work for you. The City of Victoria is a Corporation and the residents are all share holders, though it seems our voices are ignored. I know we can better manage the Cities resources and empower the Community Centres as the hubs of our local democracy. Instead the opposite is happening. If you'd like to help turn this around share the stories that help people see how Mayor after Mayor, Council after Council have delivered only statuesque even after the most Progressive of Campaigns. The solution to our problems is in ignoring the well financed Teams that will be beholden to the Groups that put them in. My vision is to develop accountability culture, to educate people in depth about the issues we face so we can hold the leadership cults accountable to our local democracy.

Marg Gardiner

1) I believe there are two important high priority issues for the next Council: 1 – Tenant Protection: The James Bay Neighbourhood Association has recognised that much of James Bay rental housing in four-storey buildings is nearing its life-cycle end. Residents have also raised the issue; for example, while canvassing, a resident told me she expects her building to be demolished as there are significant structural problems and is concerned that the landlord may not provide interim accommodation in another building. A high priority is to create transition guidelines and programs to minimize any displacement of tenants. The recent success of tenants dealing with renovations is positive, but will not solve the replacement of entire buildings that may be ahead. A possible partial solution where a property owner has more than one rental building in James Bay would be to strategically stagger building renewal to protect tenancies. As I have been campaigning, I have seen several housing projects and am most impressed by the CRD housing complexes. With the recently announced $90 million boost in housing available for affordable housing, some rental relief should be realised in a year or two.

2) Efficient & Safe People movement: Difficulties experienced by people travelling within and beyond James Bay are well known. Those using James Bay streets include residents using mobility aids such as walkers and scooters, families with strollers, bikes, cars and businesses with large delivery trucks, and tourists using buses, taxis, pedicabs, and horse-drawn carriages. The cruise industry predicts a doubling of passengers in the years ahead; a passenger increase of 12 % (2019 over 2018) next year on Alaska routes. James Bay needs more traffic calming and controls at intersections to ensure streets are safe for all residents. 2) Due to the ageing infrastructure and housing in parts of James Bay, the neighbourhood cannot be totally ‘preserved’, but the character, streetscapes and livability of the neighbourhood need to be protected and enhanced for residents. With the current large projects underway providing housing for another 700 residents, any future density increases should be minimal to ensure livability is not overly impacted. An increase in density can be achieved as rental housing is renewed since today’s suite size is smaller than the suite sizes of 40-50 years ago when much of James Bay rental housing was built.

Riga Godron

We did not receive a response from Ms. Godron by our press deadline.

James Harasymow

1) It’s hard to raise many issues if one resides in James Bay. Living here with my family the last 10 years have been the best years of my life. The horse carriages? Or maybe all those bad kabuki cab drivers. Finding an affordable place to live in James Bay is the only issue in James Bay.

2) Preserving the neighborhood, without question. Although we should continue to raise houses for secondary suites, build garden micro homes and other smaller projects. I would not support the creation of mass scale endeavors. Let’s keep James Bay the way it is.

Rose Henry

1) I know that the James community has been struggling with both the noise pollution and maintain and keep single family homes for at least the past four elections. The noise pollution issues always resurfaces every tourist season because of the high volume of cruise ships as well as helicopters coming and going. Then there is the tour buses crowding the narrow streets of JB.

2) Over the years I have seen the magnificent single family homes disappearing and being replaced with multiple apartments and condominiums. I don’t think James Bay can really increase the density now our in the near future; but neither can the community afford to lose their values as a livable welcoming community for all walks of families. These two issues can be resolved at the municipal level of government as along as both the residents and the government are prepared to commit to the time and ground level leg work needed to make these changes.

Ben Isitt (incumbent)

1) Transportation and air-quality impacts associated with the cruise ship industry, tour buses and float planes needs to be addressed. These industries impact the quality of life and health of James Bay residents, and so the issue must be treated as a top priority. We need stronger municipal bylaws to mandate low-emission or no-emission ground transportation, we need to mandate that the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority introduce shore power to end idling by ships in port, and we need action by the federal government to ensure proper regulation of the Victoria Harbour Airport.

2) Preserving the neighbourhood is more important to James Bay. The community has the largest number of residents of any Victoria neighbourhood and the highest density outside the Downtown. It is also located on a peninsula, which creates transportation challenges and imposes limits on growth. While opportunities exist to create affordable housing for seniors, youth, families and others, in order to ensure an inclusive community, this can be achieved through a model of low-rise housing that is sensitive to the surrounding land use context, abandoning the high-density model that was pursued in past decades in James Bay.

Jesse Jimenez

1) I love living here in James Bay. My friendly neighbors like Florence, Mavis, Doug, Sondra and David brightens my day with their smiles and greetings, which is a contagious attitude shared in the community. I am proud that our community is the first one that the 600,000 cruise ship visitors see when they come to Victoria. Showing our neighborhood to visitors and telling them the history, like the Birdcage Confectionery, which is the oldest convenient store in Canada, is a lucrative business that should be encouraged. But, when I hear and see online a horse collapsing in our street due to exhaustion or the horse excrements left on the ground with the foul odour and the traffic created by these drawn carriages, I feel dismayed and betrayed. Maybe, the horse and carriage approach may have faded its charm. I think that the issue that requires the highest priority which affect everyone is having a water pumping station that channels to the James Bay water network. Other communities enjoy the benefits of having pressured water in their homes. Why can’t we? Is it because we are at the end of the line and no matter what we would get water anyway? Or, is it because our water lines are old that they would burst with the installation of the pumps? If this is the case, then it should be done. Ours and the next generation’s good health will be maintained with an upgraded water network.

2) Preserving the neighborhood is an excellent idea and should be acted on. The stories should coincide with the physical preservation. The preservation of the neighborhood can only be guaranteed if it is passed down to the next generation with care and respect. In order to have a successful transition more individuals in the next generation who will share the same value as we do now is required. The way to have a caring generation is to increase the density of the population. With more potential individuals to choose from there is a better selection of the next custodians. Some people will say that they will care for the neighborhood. Only to realize, that it is mere lip service.

Also, not increasing the density is a sign of a slowly dying community. There will be less production, less communication and less liveliness. A community needs people to be viable.

Randie Johal

1) Port development should have highest priority. Due to previous city project mis-steps we must ensure: a) community consultation; b) inclusive approach; c) public services- infrastructure; and d) GVHA providing city residents participation throughout every facet of design, amenities and accessibility.

2) Increased density AND preserving the neighbourhood should go hand in hand. You can not move forward with density unless there is neighbourhood agreement. Some of these projects may mean community and development working together and at times some compromise for both.

Edison Kahakauwila

1) James Bay, is a very diverse part of Victoria having a large residential base blended with commercial, offices and a tourist destination. One of the leading concerns for James Bay is economical; we have many who live on fixed incomes as well as those who are starting out in life. Good people being priced out of a community changes that dynamic of the community. James Bay has always been a welcoming place that needs to remain balanced. Transportation is also an issue that should be considered as a high priority as it relates to both cost, accessibility and quality of life here in James Bay.

2) The neighbourhood of James Bay has seen much change over the years as has its density and industry in this area. There are areas such as Ogden Point that could see further densification, but the core of James Bay should be preserved by careful planning. I would like to see more business brought to the community to offer more opportunities to the residents of this area in both jobs and services. I would also see that cost of living is carefully managed as it relates to taxes on residents be it owners or renters.

Anna King

1) Amongst the issues that James Bay faces I believe that, just like the majority of other neighbourhoods throughout Victoria, housing availability and affordability should have the highest priority. James Bay is already ahead of the curve here, with 50% more affordable housing than the rest of Victoria, but there is still more work to do to make it as inclusive and vibrant as possible. That means better homes for new and growing families, and ensuring that the most vulnerable populations aren’t driven out by rising rents. Also with increasing population over time the plans around transportation and safer streets need to be continually improved. The current initiatives for James Bay, such as shared streets, sidewalk additions and improvements and speed calming are good, and should be continued.

2) This question seems to imply that density and neighbourhood preservation are at odds, but I don’t believe that has to be the case. By a process of careful planning and consultation with the residents, that respects the history and pace of living in James Bay, gentle densification can be successfully done in a way that provides more housing, amenities, and improves neighbourhoods. For example zoning for duplexes, encouraging renovation of existing homes to include suites, or small low rise developments with room for small retail that can be a hub for a neighbourhood.

Sean Leitenberg

1) Homelessness and panhandling are getting out of control in James Bay. Because of James Bay proximity to the down town core and the high number of tourist James Bay is highly desirable as a place for the homeless and panhandlers. This issue needs to be dealt with with some Provincial and Federal funding and the enforcement of by-laws. On the Municipal level the increase in cruise ships and the moving of what will soon reach a million tourist through James Bay will need better cooperation with the GVHA, the bus companies and the municipality. This will be compounded by future work on Dallas Road for the future sewage infrastructure and possible bike lanes. Talk about grid lock when the cruise ships arrive in mass.

2) Preserving the neighbourhood of James Bay is a priority as the density of James Bay is already incredibly high. Increase in towers will create a James Bay with no character. Our neighbourhoods are being targeted by developers with the help of City Hall.

Grace Lore

1) I believe housing is the highest priority in James Bay. In particular, there is a real and immediate need for affordable rentals for seniors who live on fixed incomes and are struggling to stay in the community that they have helped build. There is also a serious need for an increased focus on family-appropriate housing. Single family dwellings and homeownership are increasingly out of reach for most families and yet James Bay saw a loss of three-bedroom rental units between 2016 and 2017. According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation there are just 28 three-bedroom units in the neighbourhood, making up less than 1% of rental housing in James Bay. James Bay needs more family housing as well as affordable homes for seniors.

2) I do not believe these two things are in tension. So much of preserving a neighbourhood is about ensuring that the seniors who have helped build James Bay can continue to live in their community. Neighbourhood preservation is also about ensuring that those who live in the community can raise their families there. Options like row housing, larger garden suites, and allowing rentals of basement suites and garden suites can increase housing supply without significantly changing the feel of the neighbourhood. With some creative thinking, we have the opportunity to create more housing and build community!

Jeremy Loveday (incumbent)

1) The highest priority for every neighbourhood in the City of Victoria needs to be affordability. Throughout my first term on Council I have been working to build affordable housing and to preserve existing rental housing stock. I often hear from seniors and others on fixed incomes, workers who are barely getting by, and families facing the reality that they may have to leave Victoria to raise their children. That isn’t right. We need to take real action to build affordable and appropriate housing and to maintain the attainable housing stock we already have.

2) I grew up in James Bay and I love its unique character. It is important that we preserve the neighbourhood and protect existing housing stock while allowing for limited, sensitive development. James Bay is already quite densely populated and houses the largest population of Victoria residents of any neighbourhood. This density, combined with issues relating to cruise ships, industry, and the natural geography of James Bay, presents the neighbourhood with unique pressures other neighbourhoods do not face. The City must work with residents to address these issues as the neighbourhood continues to grow and evolve.

Pamela Madoff (incumbent)

1) Updating the neighbourhood plan is very important. With development pressures at a record high it is important that development in James Bay be considered very carefully, guided by updated plans and policies that reflect the input of the community. 70% of James Bay residents are renters and many of them live in market affordable units that need to be retained. New development should reflect the needs of the community and provide for a broad spectrum of housing affordability.

2) These goals do not have to be mutually exclusive. Gentle densification can increase the number of dwelling units by repurposing existing buildings to provide additional units, thus preserving the remaining character of James Bay. Detached dwellings, and duplexes, which contribute to the ambience of James Bay actually amount to less than 10% of the housing stock in our community.

Delmar Martay

1) Development and keeping our uniqueness. Also the cruise ships and traffic, speedy cars by schools. I propose cameras in handheld stop signs for crossing guards.

2) Preserving the Neighborhood! And improving the streets and walk ways.

Sarah Potts

1) I love living in James Bay. It is a beautiful, unique neighbourhood that shares a similar challenge with the rest of the city -- the housing crisis. James Bay has one of the highest proportion of renters, myself and my daughter included. It also has some of the finest examples of character homes, but many students, seniors, young families, and small business are struggling. For the residents of James Bay, I want to ensure the neighbourhood maintains its character; is thriving, and diverse; with affordable housing and an efficient transportation network that can attract and retain residents and local businesses.

2) As a resident of James Bay, the balance between increasing density and preserving our neighbourhood is important to me. We are lucky to have housing that is suitable for families, students, seniors and working people in our pocket of town. To keep this housing, we need to preserve existing rentals and protect our co-ops. As the city grows, we need to find ways of creating density that respects the neighbourhood. The creation of secondary suites should be better supported by the city and gentle density should be a priority wherever possible.

Andrew Reeve

1) The top issues that I am hearing from James Bay residents have to do with traffic, development, and the lack of consultation by the city. I believe that the Ogden Point redevelopment actually encompasses all of those issues. Any redevelopment plan by the GVHA must include a thorough traffic study, proper consultation with the neighborhood, and must be in collaboration with the City of Victoria.

2) Neighbourhood preservation and increased density are not mutually exclusive. I believe in future-forward city planning that considers the needs of both current and future residents and that all new developments should be sustainable and fit well within the aesthetic of the neighbourhood.

Jordan Reichert

1) Speaking with James Bay residents I have found that there are many issues they are concerned about, but I believe that the issue that should have the highest priority is affordability of housing. Residents want to feel that their housing is secure and that they won't be pushed out of their homes, especially if they are on a fixed income. Protecting the supply of rental housing in James Bay, as well as creating more rental housing that fits the character of the community are essential components of this.

2) I believe that James Bay residents understand the need for both. Most people I've spoken to are not opposed to more affordable housing in their community, but also want to make sure that the identity of their community is preserved in the process through genuine consultation.

Ted Smith

We did not receive a response from Mr. Smith by our press deadline.

Doug Stewart

We did not receive a response from Mr. Stewart by our press deadline.

William Tate

1) and 2) My concern in James Bay, which is under attack, so to speak, by developers who see this as a prime area to attack. I believe the quality of James Bay, the neighborhood feel, should be preserved as much as possible. Renters are under attack from renovictions. I also believe this is wrong, and their should be some noise bylaws written to protect the residents from this assault. I also believe the residents need rent protection, so rents stay affordable. Noise and rent control I see are the main issues.

Charlayne Thornton-Joe (incumbent)

1) Transportation planning..... As the Harbour Authority considers the Ogden Point Master Plan, it must be done with the consideration of the impacts on transportation and other concerns in James Bay. More cruise ship passengers equates to more vehicles transporting visitors through the neighbourhoods and the emissions they and cruise ships bring. We have to work to try to bring that plan scheduled for early 2019 and the James Bay Local Area Plan to be more in alignment. Also, the results of the Getting Around James Bay project revealed that a majority of the neighbourhood population uses active transportation and transit as part of their daily lives. For destinations within James Bay it was found that 74% of trips were made on foot, 13% by bike, 3% by public transit, and 9% by motor vehicle. Transportation planning and infrastructure must be considered to meet the needs of all the residents and their abilities.

2) I believe that the residents of James Bay are not opposed to increased density but it depends where this proposal is situated, what height is being requested, whether there are parking variances, what amenities and affordability (and concerns of renovictions) are offered to the community and whether it negatively impacts the many beautiful heritage homes in the neighbourhood. So, increased density can be supported if those are addressed properly. The vision of James Bay is “A dynamic, human-scale and diverse neighbourhood focused on a vibrant village core, that preserves its heritage, integrates its waterfront, and provides green spaces and accessible public transit." This needs to be considered when development is proposed.

Geoff Young (incumbent)

1) I believe the most important issue facing James Bay is the current pressure for increasing density to allow for more housing and the desire to retain a neighbourhood that includes traditional housing. Although often called “single family” housing, as we know many of these dwellings now hold multiple units of housing. When I moved to James Bay years ago, I was drawn by the fact I could buy a house (although one that needed much repair) walk or bike to work, and buy my groceries on the way home. James Bay has seen new amenities such as the David Foster and breakwater walkways, Fisherman’s Wharf Park and the Library. It is also seeing new employment opportunities in government and hospitality sectors. The highest priority now is to make sure that James Bay residents can continue to live in their community. We want to see reasonable opportunities for renewal of properties and new dwelling units where they fit the community, we need higher density affordable dwellings where they can add to the community, but we don’t want to see a return to widespread property speculation and demolition of the traditional housing stock, housing that gives a neighbourhood feeling and is often affordable.

2) Increased density is only a means to an end, which is making James Bay a better and more obtainable place to live. The character and livability of James Bay is why people love it, and that must be preserved as the first priority. There are places where new development can add density that will increase activity and liveliness without harming that character. Identifying those places is the challenge for neighbourhood planning. As a city we engage with the public to develop official community plans. We need to keep in mind that the community belongs to the people, not to the council. The goal is to develop a roadmap for development that can support increased housing and preserve neighbouhoods, and then to follow that plan.

Good luck to all of the candidates!

Victoria Election 2018: Candidates for Mayor

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