Victoria’s new MP Laurel Collins will resign from city council

Victoria’s newest MP will resign from city council in the coming days, triggering a byelection early next year that will cost taxpayers about $200,000, Mayor Lisa Helps confirmed Tuesday.

Laurel Collins, who won the Victoria riding for the NDP on Monday night, is on unpaid leave from council until Oct. 25.

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She intends to speak with Helps, fellow councillors and city staff to determine the best course of action for tendering her resignation, she said in an interview.

“I’ll be consulting with them, but I definitely will be resigning from council.”

Once Collins steps aside, council will appoint a chief election officer and notify Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson.

A vote must take place within 80 days of the appointment.

Helps said the resulting byelection will likely occur in mid-February.

“The Christmas break means that we can’t get going right away,” she said, pegging the cost of a byelection at about $200,000.

A Saanich council byelection in 2017 cost the district about $123,000, officials said Tuesday.

There is no legal requirement for Collins to step aside, but the newly minted MP said she wants to devote all her energies to representing the Victoria riding, a seat the NDP has held since 2006, first under Denise Savoie and later Murray Rankin.

“Council, although it’s not paid as a full-time job, was taking up 55 to 60 hours of my week, and I really want to dedicate my time to representing the residents of our riding,” she said.

“I’m just so incredibly honoured that our community has put their trust in me to represent them as their next MP and I’m really looking forward to pouring all of my time and energy into doing a great job at that and to carrying on the legacy that Murray Rankin and Denise Savoie are leaving.”

Collins, who faced criticism for stepping away from council less than a year after winning a seat, said it was an “excrutiatingly hard” decision.

She initially refused when a number of people asked her to seek the federal nomination, but changed her mind after speaking with Rankin and other NDP politicians, including leader Jagmeet Singh.

“What each of them said, in their own way, was to think about the issues that matter most in our community and where I could make the biggest impact,” she said.

“I know that the people currently on council are going to continue to fight for affordable housing to really tackle the housing crisis and for bold climate leadership. These are the things that I’ve been working on in this community for over a decade.

“And we need federal leadership on these issues. We need a federal government that takes these issues seriously and that is what I want to go to Ottawa and do.”

Helps said it’s great to have a council colleague elected to the House of Commons.

“I think that cities are critically important in the 21st century and to have somebody who’s had some municipal experience advocating for cities, and in particular for our city, in Ottawa is a good thing.”

Helps said Victoria has had a close relationship with the federal Liberals under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and she expects that to continue with the NDP potentially holding the balance of power in a minority government.

“What I anticipate with the Liberals and the NDP working together is that we’re going to see action on things that are important to Victorians and Canadians — so affordable housing, child care, generating high-paying jobs, investing in education, taking action on climate change — all of the things that we need to live good lives in cities around the region and across the country.

“I think this minority government will deliver on some of those things and I’m glad we have a strong advocate there.”

lkines@timescolonist.com

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