Standing up for people and the planet

Ben at Women's March

Dear Friends,

After talking with my family and community members, I've decided to seek re-election to the office of city councillor and regional director in Victoria.

We've made progress over the past term, on issues including housing affordability, sustainable transportation, environmental protection and good government. This includes securing a $90-million investment in the Regional Housing First Program, increasing funding for community centres and seniors centres by more than 50%, improving options for walking and cycling, and being the first municipality in British Columbia to eliminate single-use plastic bags as a first step toward a broader zero-waste strategy.

But there is much more work to do. In believe that local government must do more to guarantee the right of all people to:

  • live with dignity in safe, energy-efficient, affordable housing;
  • live in a healthy environment with a stable climate, sustainable transportation options and access to nature, clean air, fresh water and nutritious food;
  • participate actively in an inclusive community, with adequate income, support services and access to arts, culture and recreation;
  • participate actively in our local democracy and in decisions affecting their lives.

I hope that I can count on your support in the October 20 election. If you are able to help, please make a campaign contribution today or sign up for a lawn or window sign, or to volunteer.

I appreciate your support and any ideas you have for building a stronger community.

All the best,

Ben

 

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On the removal of Sir John A.

On Thursday, August 9, 2018, I voted along with a majority of City Council members to remove a statute of John A. MacDonald from the entrance to Victoria City Hall. My reasons are explained in this interview from CTV National News, and in my remarks at the Council Meeting, which I have reproduced below.

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Victoria council votes to cover School District funding shortage for crossing guards

School crossing guards. Source: Victoria News file photo

Nicole Crescenzi, Victoria News, Aug. 3, 2018

August has just begun, but Victoria council are planning ahead for the first days of school – and asking why they are paying for a service they say should be covered by the Ministry of Education.

During Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting, councillors approved granting just over $27,000 to the Greater Victoria Crossing Guards Association, to ensure elementary schools have adults patrolling the crosswalks before and after school.

In previous years, the City paid between $30,000- $37,500 per year to Beacon Community Services for its crossing guard program. This year, Beacon did not offer the service, so parents formed the non-profit Greater Victoria association.

“This is not the perfect fix,” said Coun. Ben Isitt. “It should be delivered through the education system, but because of how constrained funding is for the school system, we can fill the gap.”

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Supporting a fair deal for Victoria Airport workers

Ben standing in solidarity with Victoria Airport workers

“Hey Hey #YYJ, Low Wages Are Not Okay!” Standing in solidarity with Victoria Airport food-services workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 40, fighting for fairness!

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Paddle for LEL,TOS and the Salish Sea

Poster for the Paddle for LEL,TOS and the Salish Sea

I hope you will join me on the Community Paddle around LEL,TOS (James Island) on Sunday, September 2, supporting the Tsawout First Nation and indigenous rights.

The paddle begins with a community breakfast at ȾIX̱EṈ (Cordova Spit) at 9:00 am and is followed by a community feast at the Tsawout Gym. Everyone is welcome to participate in the activities on the water and on shore!

You can learn more and sign up to participate at www.TurningtheTide.ca/leltos. You can also join, share and invite others to the event on Facebook. If you are interested in volunteering, please let me know.

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Reflections on Amalgamation

Photo of Victoria and Saanich

On October 20, residents of Victoria and Saanich will vote on the following referendum question:

Are you in favour of spending up to $250,000 for establishing a Citizens’ Assembly to explore the costs, benefits and disadvantages of the amalgamation between the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria?

Victoria City Council debated this question and broader issues of amalgamation at a joint meeting with Saanich Council on June 26, 2018. You can read my remarks below.

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Peoples' history of Victoria

Ben on a walking tour discussing the peoples' history of Victoria

I was honoured to join a group of engaged community members for a walking tour exploring "The Peoples' History of Victoria" on International Workers Day, May 1, 2018.

We visited locations around the community connecting with the history of struggles for workers' rights, women's rights, indigenous rights and racial equality.

Thank you to the organizers of the walking group for inviting me to share some insights on the history of our local community and inspiring grassroots movements for equality.

 

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Celebrating our inclusive and diverse community

Ben at Vaisakhi parade

Congratulations to the local Sikh community on successfully hosting the first Vaisakhi parade in Victoria in more than a century! 

It was excellent to see so many community members participate in this historic occasion, which recognizes Khalsa Day, including members of the Sikh community as well as other community members interested in learning about this cultural tradition. 

A special thank you to the Sikh Youth of Victoria for their inspiring leadership advancing cultural awareness and supporting causes of social justice in our community and beyond.

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Advancing women's rights and human rights

Victoria women's march, January 20, 2018

Marching with my cousin Jill at the Victoria Women's March on January 20, 2018, part of a world-wide day of action in support of women's rights and human rights.

In the context of Trumpism and reactionary social movements south of the border and elsewhere, which are undermining women's rights and human rights, it is important to band together at the grassroots level and demonstrate public support for dignity and equality.

Thank you to the organizers in the group Women's March Victoria, for spearheading an inspiring, optimistic and very well-attended event.

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Ben's response to National Housing Strategy

Ben responds to the release of Canada's National Housing Strategy in this interview with Jason D'Souza from CBC Radio's All Points West on November 22, 2017.

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