Thank you Brianna, for those grounding words of recognition and acknowledgement.
As we stand here today it is essential for us to feel our feet on the ground, to be inspired and reassured that our paths are clear, and our intentions true to the lands and Nations, respectful and cognizant of the past, dedicated to an inclusive, shared future.
Thank you for setting us on that path.
Thank you Suzanne, for the generosity of your words, your enthusiasm, and your commitment to investing in our community, in our economy – for your role in helping us pay our way forward so we can enrich our city with a myriad of programs, services and public spaces, like this one.
I’ve been privileged to have three terms as a city councillor, and a privilege it has been. I love my job, and still smile each time I use my electronic key card to enter city hall after business hours.
Those years have seen incredible change.
One of the first motions I made as a councillor spoke to the need for better harm reduction street services.
Fast forward 10 years and we have established complex care to serve complex needs through a partnership of community-based service providers, Island Health, police and civilian emergency responders.
Another early project I began was the banning of bottled water sales at city facilities – and now the city has policies that speak to the end of plastic bags and single use containers, and a multifaceted climate action strategy that is beginning to address our local response to climate change in myriad ways.
So our issues are somewhat linear, and their roots and cores may be the same – but their complexities are so much more.
Solutions to challenges that complex need a unique kind of attention, and a unique kind of leadership.
And that’s why, today, I’m announcing that I am ready to take my years of experience and balanced approach to lead Victoria as a city for everyone, this time as mayor.
For many months, a really diverse range of Victorians have asked me to consider running for Mayor.
From business folk like Suzanne, to social justice advocates, homeowners and renters, builders, seniors, young people, all kinds of workers in all kinds of sectors, newcomers, and Indigenous leaders, like Breanna – it really has been a humbling experience witnessing the support and persuasion that has led me here today.
It’s taken a bit longer than some would have liked – thank you for your patience! – but I wanted to take the time to listen carefully, reflect on all that collective and individual advice.
I wanted to make sure I understood the road ahead, and came to terms with whether or not I have the skills, experience, temperament, patience, and integrity to do the job well.
It’s also been important to me that I continue to do my day job – the city needs a focused and attentive council right now more than ever. There are significant decisions still to be made before this term ends.
But having done that due diligence, it’s time to make the commitment of further service to everyone who lives in this great city of ours, and to you.
The Victoria to which I came home in 1989, after being away at university, is not the city we have today. Victoria has passed the threshold of being a ‘big town’ and is evolving into a thriving city with complex, urban challenges.
Meeting those challenges requires balance, leadership, experience, and the courage to make tough decisions. And those decisions warrant careful thought and analysis before they’re made.
Throughout my years of service to the city, I have made sure that I am well-informed and well prepared, so I can listen actively, with objectivity, bring opposing interests together, to find and implement solutions that work.
My approach won’t change as Mayor. I will continue to identify a reasoned path forward that reflects the interests of the community today, with a responsible eye on the future.
But being a mayor isn’t just about making solid, well informed, decisions.
It’s also about setting a tone – the tone – and standard – for civil discourse and thoughtful decision-making.
It’s about the ability to create a calm, inclusive space in which heated debate can safely, respectfully, find collective solutions.
About the experience to know how to set expectations for good governance, and the skills to facilitate that governance as it operates, in the best interest of residents.
I can do that. I’m a facilitator by trade. It’s been my other job for years. People tell me I do it pretty well.
We will need that tone, those abilities, that experience and those skills, for the work ahead. The city has made progress on important work. But there’s a lot more to do.
We’ve built, and continue to build, momentum on housing – but everyone in Victoria needs a home, and we’re not there yet.
The well-being of our residents relies on access to healthy safe places, and spaces where we can stay active and engaged.
We can make public space more accessible and innovative – and we need to explore ways to offer residential and practise enticements to make it possible for medical professionals to live and work in Victoria.
Our local economy is strong, thanks to investors like Suzanne, and nothing to which we aspire happens without that strong engine.
It needs to be strong if we are committed to always paying our way forward.
Our economy is what supports all those services and programs and spaces that enrich our neighbourhoods and our lives.
We have begun to act on climate adaptation, but we need to do more , to protect our planet and find local solutions, neighbourhood by neighbourhood.
There are things you and I can do every day that may not save the world on their own, but added together will make an important difference.
Our paths of Reconciliation with Indigenous Nations have been formed and tended these last 10 years, and our relationships have shown the strength and beauty those efforts can create. Thank you again, Breanna, for your generous words today.
Those journeys are ongoing, and as I have said in every one of my campaigns, creating and nurturing those relationships will add value and opportunity for the Nations and for the city that sits upon their land.
These last couple of years have taken their toll on the city.
Redirecting resources to respond to the pandemic left our streets and public spaces a little worn. It’s time we invest in more care and maintenance in our public infrastructure.
There’s a lot to be done in the next four years! And as the campaign unfolds, I’ll be sharing more details on all of these issues, informed by your voices, backed by balanced thinking, and guided by careful resource management.
I recognize that some folk feel overwhelmed by the pace of change these last years.
I think we can agree that it would be ok to “take a breath”, to assess our progress, make some adjustments, observe our projects and programs in action, while we imagine, plan, and prepare for our next moves – and then thoughtfully move forward as a city for all of us, and for future generations.
So, where do we go from here?
In the days and months ahead, my team – and thanks so much for being here! – and I will be out on the doorsteps, in coffee shops, community centres, anywhere conversations can happen – listening, talking together with you about what needs to be done, setting the course for the next four years, and mapping the journey of Victoria’s incredible future.
It would be the privilege of a lifetime to lead the city on that journey as your mayor. So, let’s get started – and discover, together, how we will continue to build a city for everyone. Thank you for coming today!