Cuevano ~ Jorge Aranda

Victoria's Municipal Election, 2018

Victoria is having its municipal election just a week from now, on October 20th, and the streets, including our own sidewalk, are lined with lawn signs.

This post lists some resources I found useful in deciding who to vote for, and then my rationale and endorsements.


  • The City of Victoria elections page is one impartial place to start looking for information on the candidates
  • Victoria Votes has useful summaries on all candidates. Generally speaking, I found the site's commentary a bit lax, though not misleading—reading the candidates websites, conveniently linked from the Victoria Votes site, you can find more relevant details
  • Victorians for Transportation Choice has candidate responses to transportation questions, which have turned out to be one of the main dividing issues among candidates. I feel the questions are smart, and the answers give good hints both about the stance of the candidates and about their understanding of civic matters
  • The School Board Trustee candidate platforms are, as a rule, ambiguous, mushy, and released too late, and it's difficult to really assess where they stand. I guess, since there are only nine candidates for twelve positions, not standing out too much is a good strategy. But this makes it difficult to make an informed decision. On a pinch, the BC Teachers' Federation's endorsements page helps by providing a list of progressive, labour-minded candidates
  • Sexual education is a wedge issue elsewhere in Canada, but thankfully our school district is mostly enlightened in this regard. Sex Ed Is Our Right collected trustee candidates' stances on the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity program, and if you scroll down to district 61 you will see that most candidates support it

Where We Stand

Four years ago, I somewhat reluctantly endorsed Dean Fortin over Lisa Helps. Helps won a narrow victory and went on to prove that my concerns with her were unfounded. She has been an effective mayor in a period of significant growth in Victoria. She listens to city residents, she is receptive to First Nations issues, she promotes neighbourhood community building, and she has steered the city to an (even more) enviable position within Canada.

The two main issues in town today, I would say, are transportation (or, really, the expansion of the bike lane network) and housing.

The first should be a non-issue. In Victoria's streets, as in most of the world, the car is king. We know this situation is expensive and unsustainable. We know that walking and cycling whenever possible make us healthier and keep our air clean and our wallets full. So we need to slow down car traffic and to build a cycling network, in order to make car alternatives safer and more compelling.

So the city begins building a modest network of separated bike lanes downtown, and to consider lower speed limits, and—as entitled factions tend to do—the Car Clown Task Force comes out in full force, complaining about a war on cars, about gridlock, about lack of parking, about the choice of street for a bike lane, about construction costs, and so on, until they've convinced themselves that they're being oppressed so hard they won't be able to come out of their driveway. But I've been through downtown since the new bike lanes opened, both driving and cycling. Driving is still just as fine. Cycling is unbelievably better. We should keep building this network.

The second issue is serious, and while one may argue that Helps and Council should have seen this coming and reacted more quickly, I think they just got caught up in the wave with inappropriate short-term options. The problem is that housing here is expensive—in Canada, I think Vancouver and Toronto are the only cities with a worse housing problem.

We basically have a lot of people moving into town (it's a great place to live!), and while construction cranes are now a seemingly permanent fixture in town, there are not enough spots for everybody yet, and in particular for families with kids. All of this raises rents, mortgages, and property taxes, and therefore makes living here unaffordable. It increases homelessness. It makes the prospect of having to move extremely stressful for many. So we need a denser city, but it takes time to build up, it takes effort to fight NIMBYism, and it takes prudence to grow responsibly and maintain a green, laid-back city with a beautiful character.

Last election, we had two strong left-of-centre candidates (Helps and Fortin). This year, the stronger opponents to Helps are further to the right. Stephen Hammond and his New Council slate have predictably toady proposals, such as tax cuts, increasing police budgets, and stopping the bike lane network. Similarly, Michael Geoghegan wants to fight the current bike lane placements, and to loosen energy efficiency standards in new construction. To the extent that his platform has themes, they are to make city governance more like Langford's (a Victoria suburb) and to get money from the provincial and federal governments to solve our problems (which, sure, I want that too, but good luck).



This year, the choice for mayor was easy. The incumbent, Lisa Helps has been an effective and capable leader, with a promising vision for Victoria. She definitely has my vote.


The vote for councillors is as important as the one for mayor! They help shape the agenda and provide us with better representation at City Hall.

You can vote for up to eight councillors, but note that it is good strategy to only vote for your favourites, as filling up a ballot increases the chances that candidates you are less keen on squeak past your preferred choices.

  • Jeremy Loveday is my top choice for City Council. I have personally seen how active and purposeful he's been as a councillor fighting for the civic good. When we began organizing to improve our neighbourhood, he was there with us, giving us advice and information. I will gladly vote for him.
  • Grace Lore, I think, will bring a useful perspective to Council: as a working mother, and as a renter, she brings to her platform underappreciated issues of family housing and childcare that, if implemented, will benefit us all
  • The Together Victoria slate (formed by Laurel Collins, Sarah Potts, and Sharmarke Dubow) also has my support. Its three candidates will help address the affordability problems in Victoria
  • Ben Isitt is, finally, also a reliable, progressive choice for Council, and I encourage you to support him, too

School Board

Given the difficulty in assessing differences between trustee candidates, I encourage you to vote for the candidates endorsed by the BCTF. In alphabetical order:

  • Vincent Gornall
  • Diane McNally
  • Ryan Painter
  • Rob Paynter
  • Jordan Watters


In our ballots, we will also have a referendum question on whether to establish a Citizen's Assembly to explore the amalgamation of Victoria with Saanich. I am, in general, averse to amalgamation (I prefer small organizations over large; I saw the damage that amalgamation brought, and continues to bring, to Toronto), but this question is merely about establishing an Assembly to explore the issue, and about Victoria and Saanich, two municipalities that are joined at the hip. I will reluctantly vote Yes in the referendum question.