British Columbia

Will Victoria find favour with new B.C. government?

An incoming government with five MLAs from Greater Victoria, including the premier-designate, is raising hopes among municipal leaders for more help with longstanding challenges.

Greater Victoria politicians hope for more support with region's MLAs in government and premier's seat

B.C. Premier-designate John Horgan takes office July 18, 2017. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

Bike lanes for Saanich. Affordable housing for Victoria. A new transit line on an old railway corridor. 

The prospect of a new government with five MLAs from Greater Victoria, including the incoming premier, is raising hopes among some municipal leaders for more help with longstanding challenges.

In the 2013 provincial election, the victorious BC Liberals were shut out of the seven seats in the Capital Region. 

Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell said while the Liberal government funded roads and bridges in the Lower Mainland and other regions, "I can't draw up a long list of what's been done on the Island."

Atwell acknowledged Premier Christy Clark's government did move on the long-awaited McKenzie overpass to ease the crowded commute to the Western Communities.   

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins hopes a premier and MLAs from Greater Victoria will support local priorities such as a regional policing strategy (CHEK News)

Atwell said Saanich is hoping for provincial aid for its $12.5 million plan for cycling lanes on the busy Shelbourne corridor. A smaller section of bike lane was turned down for funding before the election. 

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, who ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the BC Liberals in May, said the lack of local MLAs in the outgoing Liberal government has been an obstacle for Capital Region municipalities. 

Despite the appointment of two cabinet ministers from middle and north Vancouver Island, Desjardins said, "there was no one that you could go to that would really understand the issues, because they're not here living it.

"The Malahat is much more than just a physical barrier."

Desjardins, who is also the Capital Regional District chair, said her priorities for provincial government support are comprehensive waste management, a review of the fragmented policing system among the region's municipalities and a plan for transit service along the E & N rail corridor. 

Victoria Coun. Geoff Young says NDP funding could add affordable housing on sites such as Evergreen Terrace, where these fire-damaged units were recently demolished. (Deborah Wilson/CBC)

Victoria City Councillor Geoff Young told On the Island's Khalil Akhtar the pledge to create more than 100,000 affordable housing units across the province could help ease one of the capital city's toughest problems. 

Meanwhile, the modest-sounding promise of a $400 annual rebate for renters would have a measurable economic impact in a city with a high tenant population, Young said.

"We can expect to see an injection of eight to 10 million dollars of purchasing power through that," he said.

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