Comment: Victoria needs to govern for everyone, not the few

A commentary by a Victoria city councillor.

A few days ago I replied on Twitter to a question about a 15-year-old who had been assaulted in a tent in Beacon Hill Park.

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In my reply about this clearly horrific act of violence, I wanted to communicate that what happened to this teen was absolutely awful, as is the prevalence of sexualized violence across our community. One thinks that would be the end of the story.

Instead, part of this singular reply was taken out of context and used as the basis of an editorial, “City councillors need to show support for the police and the people,” as a form of testimony about my complete positions on big topics such as community safety and homelessness.

I would like to add the most important sentence that was omitted from the editorial: “It’s awful.” I’m a parent of a teenage daughter and my heart breaks over what has happened.

What we focus on matters. It’s a shame that the editorial wasn’t a rallying cry to bring the community together.

Instead, it was written with intentions to divide the community rather than find solutions. This hurts efforts to secure the resources needed to provide the support and safety that this teen and others urgently need.

We can all agree that no 15-year-old should be living in a park, and that pandemic-driven sheltering in parks is not the safest solution for anyone.

The journey out of homelessness is a complex one, with many steps.

The first step is finding permanent, stable, affordable homes for each person without. One hundred temporary homes will be opening in Victoria next month. This will house every unhoused person in our city — an unprecedented achievement.

This could only have happened through the significant collaboration between multiple levels of government and community partners.

We need to remain focused on the remaining steps, until everyone in Victoria is safe and secure. That is the vision of this council.

Council must govern for everyone, not the few.

Victoria city council supports the Victoria police. The police budget was fully funded in both 2020 and 2021, including every additional budget request made over that time.

It’s time to focus on what more is needed. Community safety has been shown to require commitments to permanent housing, poverty reduction, accessible mental health care, and harm reduction.

Everyone deserves safety. Everyone deserves a home.

I think we can all agree that a Victoria that focuses on these things is a Victoria where we all prosper and want to live.

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