How did City of Victoria councillors vote on development issues over the past four years?
JOURNALIST SID TAFLER, a former editor of Monday Magazine, has compiled the four-year voting record of current City of Victoria council members on major development issues for his new website called The Record—just in time for the October 20 civic elections.
“Some of the results may surprise you—and your readers,” Tafler told us. “There is a theme throughout regarding which way council leans, and some consistent voting by some in the same direction, and what looks like block voting.” Some councillors consistently vote for major development proposals, while others are more nuanced, he explained. Pressed for an example he mentions that Mayor Lisa Helps and Councillor Marianne Alto have voted “yes” on 95 percent of development projects. Others, like Geoff Young, had a 50-50 record of pro and con votes.
The Record will look at issues such as amalgamation and responsiveness to community concerns, but development is its main focus. “Development is key to just about anything in the City—transportation, affordability, parks, emergency services (e.g. firefighters will have to deal with more high rises)…and the kind of city we’re going to live in,” said Tafler. He pointed out that development is also an area where City Hall has a tremendous amount of control, so it’s important to figure out whether they are using it wisely.
The collapse of professional journalism and general distraction and apathy means no one is really aware of the voting record of incumbents, noted Tafler, who spent many hours reading minutes and listening to videotaped council meetings to help correct that “democracy deficit.” Voters need solid understanding of their representatives’ actions to make an informed choice come voting day.
Besides looking at incumbents’ voting patterns, The Record will also look at new candidates, offer analysis around the issues, and explain what happened once the election is over.
A Gofundme campaign seeking to raise $3,000 had been almost reached at presstime. Go to www.victoriarecord.com for more.
Leslie Campbell is the editor of Focus Magazine.