Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps announced today she will run for re-election in 2018, to serve the city for a second term. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

Victoria mayor Lisa Helps to seek re-election in 2018

Affordability, sustainability, transportation, transit focus of fall election, said Helps

Mayor Lisa Helps announced today that she intends to run for a second term in the fall 2018 municipal election.

Helps addressed the media in her office after hosting the annual New Year’s Day Levee at city hall.

“It’s been a real pleasure for the last three years to work on behalf of, and alongside our community,” Helps said. “We’ve got an amazing community and so it’s for that reason that I’ve decided to run for election in 2018, for one more term.”

While the mayor made it clear this was not the official launch of her campaign, she wanted to honour a promise she made to constituents that she would reveal her plans on the first day of 2018.

Looking to the election, the mayor said the key issue this time around will be the future and hopefully not just bike lanes.

It’s no secret Victorians are polarized on the issue of bike lanes, infrastructure Helps has prioritized since taking office in Dec. 2014. She said, it’s not about getting people out of cars who want to drive but about providing more transportation choices.

In the next ten to 15 years, Helps estimates close to 10,000 more people will call downtown Victoria home. “If each one of those people feels compelled to bring a car because they don’t have another way to get around, we’re going to have instant gridlock and increase our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Affordability, sustainability, transportation, and transit will be the focus of the fall election: “All those things that we want to live well in a city in the 21st century.”

That includes regional transit to the West Shore, something Helps said if not done, will leave the region behind in terms of proper growth.

In terms of affordable housing, Helps said for the first time ever, there is both money and plans in place.

The Victoria Housing Strategy, a ten-year plan to increase the development of rental housing runs until 2025; the Regional Housing First program – currently a $60 million project that could see up to 2,000 units of mostly below-market housing – is also moving forward.

One of the biggest challenges the mayor said she and council faced this term, was the fact that no affordable or rental housing had been built in Victoria for over 30 years.

“We’re playing catch-up,” she said. “I agree it’s a big issue.”

When Helps launches her campaign this summer, the goal will be to build a platform alongside the community. Ideas and input from residents are essential, she said, to make sure the plan put forward for the next four years meets the needs of Victorians.

“Victoria is an amazing place,” Helps said. “Our community is rich with ideas, rich with potential and my job as mayor is to really unleash that potential.”

For more from the announcement at city hall today, check out our live Facebook stream.

kristyn.anthony@vicnews.com

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