Midway through her four-year term, the job performance of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps has won the approval of 47 per cent of the people surveyed in a Times Colonist poll.
Another 42 per cent say they disapprove of her performance, according to a survey of 275 eligible voters conducted by Oraclepoll Research.
Eleven per cent said they were undecided.
“I guess I see it as a positive that more people either don’t know or are happy than those that are unhappy. So I’ll take it as an overall sign that we must be going in some kind of right direction halfway through the term,” Helps said when told of the findings.
“To me, that’s kind of normal. Some people are going to like what we’re doing. Some people are going to not like what we’re doing. I think the point is we’re doing more than has been done in this city in a very long time and I think that’s a good thing,”
Helps cited economic development, sewage treatment and housing as her top priorities.
Residents were asked: “Do you approve or disapprove of the overall job performance of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps?”
Among residents aged 65 and older, 58 per cent said they approved what she has done. Just 42 per cent of voters aged 18 to 34 approved of her work.
Sixty-seven per cent of those earning less than $50,000 also said they approved of her performance.
The mayor’s approval numbers are higher than those of her council. Only 44 per cent of those surveyed approved of the overall job performance of city council and 48 per cent disapproved. Eight per cent were unsure.
Approval for city council’s performance was highest among residents 65 years and older, and among residents earning $75,000 or less.
Approval was lowest among residents 18 to 34 and those earning $100,000 or more.
“They’re kind of sobering numbers for council,” said Michael Prince, Lansdowne professor of social policy at the University of Victoria. “Room to improve, I guess, in the next two years.”
Prince said it’s difficult to tell whether the council approval percentages might reflect public opinion of one or two councillors who are higher profile, or council as a whole.
About two thirds of those surveyed — 66 per cent — support their municipal tax dollars being spent on housing for the homeless, while 28 per cent were opposed and six per cent were undecided. Support was highest among 18- to 34-year-olds at 75 per cent and 35- to 50-year-olds at 72 per cent. Support was also strong among those earning less than $75,000 a year at 76 per cent.
Helps said the numbers were somewhat surprising given that housing is a provincial responsibility, not a municipal one, and that housing forms such a small percentage of the city budget.
Prince, on the other hand, thought the numbers in support of social housing might have been even stronger in light of the nine-month experience with tent city on the courthouse green.
Victorians also came out strongly in favour of looking at amalgamation. Asked if the province should review the issue of amalgamation in the capital region, including its advantages and disadvantages, 76 per cent said yes, 18 per cent said no, and six per cent didn’t know.
The poll is considered accurate within 5.9 per cent 19 times out of 20. The telephone survey of 275 households, using both land lines and mobile, was conducted with live operators between Nov. 1 and Nov. 7.
This is the first of a series. Results from Saanich will be published Wednesday, and from Nanaimo Thursday.