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 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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Vancouver Island councillors eye sites for new national housing cash

Victoria City Councillor Ben Isitt says the Evergreen Terrace complex is one site where redevelopment could add new apartments above the townhouse-style housing units. (Photo: Jason D'Souza, CBC)

CBC News, November 23, 2017

Municipal councillors in Victoria and Saanich are attempting to estimate what the region's share of funds might be from a new $40 billion national housing strategy announced Wednesday.

They're also on the lookout for potential sites where new housing could be built or updated using those new funds.

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Have your say on the city budget

I wanted to let you know about an important opportunity to have your say on the City of Victoria's 2018 Budget – at a Town Hall happening on Thursday, November 30 at 6:30 pm at Victoria City Hall.

Any member of the public can speak directly to City Council and senior city staff, helping shape decisions on the level of spending and how resources are allocated to priorities such as transportation, housing, neighbourhoods, food security, parks and emergency services.

I encourage you to attend the Town Hall meeting on November 30.

You can also learn more about the budget and provide feedback here.

All the best,


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Advancing social and ecological justice at the UBCM

Ben speaking at the UBCM conference in favour of a resolution calling for action on housing affordability

This week I joined city councillors, mayors, regional directors and First Nations leaders from around the province at the annual convention of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM).

This gathering brings together people working at the local government level to discuss shared challenges, identify solutions and advocate for action by the Provincial government. The recent change in the BC Legislature was reflected at the UBCM conference, with the new NDP government and Premier John Horgan and his Cabinet ministers and MLAs participating in many conference sessions, along with members of the Green Party caucus.

I had fruitful discussions with the Premier, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Minister of Transportation and Green Party MLAs Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen.

I was also able to advocate successfully for majority votes of UBCM delegates on several resolutions advanced by the City of Victoria, including a resolution calling for action to encourage the use of residential property to provide housing, and discourage speculation, flipping, commodity investment and other distortions in the housing market.

Another resolution from the City of Victoria that was adopted by UBCM delegates calls for the Province of BC to optimize the community benefits of forest resources, including strengthening protections for old-growth forests and drinking watersheds, ending the export of raw logs, and transitioning toward a value-added sector based in sustainable management of second-growth forests and expansion of community forests and community log markets.

Ben and other municipal leaders have advocated for the province of BC to embrace sustainable management of forest resources

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Opening Victoria's first protected bike lane

Ben and his mother join other City Council members and the public to open the city's first protect bike lane

What a great way to celebrate Mother's Day! Opening the City of Victoria's first protected "all ages and abilities" bike lane with my Mom and other City Council members, staff and members of the public.

We still have a ways to go before the city is properly connected, with safe routes through the various neighbourhoods and Downtown that are accessible to children who are ago 8, or senior citizens who are age 80, and everyone in between. But we're getting there.

Let's keep moving forward!

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