Re: Helps to seek re-election in 2018 (News, Jan. 5)
Mayor Lisa Helps believes we’re all members of her ‘community’– contented constituents. Like the Empress Hotel symbol reigning over the jeweled Inner Harbour, this post-colonial politician and her managers preside over an exclusive enclave of the elite. They control the public purse, allot privileges and oversee the vital infrastructure and delivery of services to city residents and businesses.
Being open, fair and accountable, not to mention exercising due diligence that serves the public interest and ensures the sustainable future of this city, do not appear to be prerequisites for the position of mayor and head of a municipal corporation.
The City lacks meaningful public engagement, rigorous policy debate and public scrutiny of multi-million dollar development proposals, a.k.a. land-use licenses to print money. Whose interests are being served? Who calls the shots? A plutocracy comprised of real estate developers, construction contractors and financial investors.
The mayor has many special-interest voters to woo: cyclists, urban farmers, off-leash dog-walkers, marijuana consumers, millennial entrepreneurs, sharing-economy operators and community garden enthusiasts to name a few. All seek perks and access to public funds in the form of ‘community’ grants, amenities, contracts, tax exemptions (for selected heritage property owners) or deferred property tax entitlements for citizens over 55 years.
Victoria is a picturesque tourist destination, a capital which has preserved its imperial roots as a constant reminder that power, status and wealth are valued above all else. Ridding the city of eyesores, ‘ingrates’ and vulnerable citizens seems to be at the heart of the mayor’s social-cleansing mission. Her ‘master’ prosperity plan is based on building a safe, secure, privileged paradise ruled by anonymous property owners, corporate financial interests and invisible real estate speculators.
Are you welcome in the mayor’s ‘community’ and in this city?