Thanksgiving message

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I think it's important to affirm our core values and recommit to working for a fairer distribution of resources in our community and world, so everyone can live a life with happiness and dignity.

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Widen the Galloping Goose Trail

Galloping Goose Trail. Photo by Adrian Lam, Times Colonist

The Galloping Goose Regional Trail is a vital transportation corridor for pedestrians and cyclists in the Capital Region, helping advance regional priorities including active transportation, climate action and healthy communities.

Usage has increased substantially in recent years, leading to congestion among different trail users in urban areas, particularly the section between the Selkirk Trestle and the “switch bridge” over the Trans-Canada Highway.

The City of Victoria and Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition are calling on the Capital Regional District to plan for the widening of the trail and design improvements. Lend your voice to these efforts by signing and sharing this letter of support!

We call on the Capital Regional District to invest in increased capacity and safety on the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, beginning with detailed design drawings in 2015 to accommodate additional right-of-way and design improvements for the section between the Selkirk Trestle and the "switch bridge" to ensure safe, enjoyable and efficient travel for all trail users.


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Solidarity with First Nations

Standing up for Grace Islet at the BC Legislature

I was honoured to participate in a demonstration at the opening of the BC Legislature today, calling on the Government of British Columbia to take immediate action to protect the First Nations cemetery at Grace Islet, Ganges Harbour, where a private retirement home is under construction. In this photo, I'm standing with leaders in the movement to protect the cemetery and broader efforts to support indigenous rights: (from left to right) Salt Spring Island resident Joe Akerman, Tsartlip First Nation Chief Don Tom, Grand Chief Stewart Philip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Tseycum Chief Vern Jacks and Salt Spring Island resident Phil Vernon. Gary Holman, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Saanich North and the Islands, has also advocated consistently for protection of Grace Islet and was with us at the demonstration before taking his seat in the legislative assembly. To join the movement to protect Grace Islet, please sign this petition.

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Advocacy at the Union of BC Municipalities convention

Ben addresses the Union of BC Municipaities annual convention

I attended the Union of BC Municipalities annual convention the week of September 22-26, meeting with a number of municipal officials as well as the Premier and the Ministers of Health, Aboriginal Affairs and Forests. Convention sessions on civic engagement and responsible resource management provided useful information on best practices.

I also participated in a number of policy resolution debates, advocating for open government, farmland protection and First Nations rights.

In this photograph, I am speaking in favour of a resolution to limit increased oil tanker traffic on the coast, advising delegates of my view that the proposed Trans-Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project currently under review with the National Energy Board is incompatible with the economy and ecology of the City of Victoria and Capital Region.

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Taking the Municipal Farmland Challenge

Taking the Municipal Farmland Challenge 

I'm proud to take the Municipal Farmland Challenge, which is consistent with my track record as a City Councillor and CRD Director:

"As an elected official, I pledge to support protection of the Capital Region’s supply of arable land in decisions on land use and Agricultural Land Reserve exclusions, municipally and regionally."

It was a great day to show support for farmland protection and local food systems at Madrona Farm in Saanich, joined by Esquimalt council candidate Olga Liberchuk, Madrona farmer Nathalie Chambers, and Victoria council candidates Jeremy Loveday and Erik Kaye.

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City Council calls for pathway upgrades at Smith Hill Reservoir

Smith Hill Reservoir

The pathways surrounding the Smith Hill Reservoir next to Summit Park in the Hillside-Quadra neighbourhood have moved a step closer to receiving long-overdue upgrades.

Victoria City Council has voted unanimously in favour of a proposal I put forward with Mayor Dean Fortin calling on the City to work with the Capital Regional District (CRD) to improve the pathways for safety and the enjoyment of the public.

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Comment: Acquire Grace Islet to protect burial ground

By Ben Isitt, Times Colonist opinion-editorial, August 13, 2014

Today, Capital Regional District directors will consider a proposal to acquire Grace Islet in Ganges Harbour off Saltspring Island for the public purpose of protecting the First Nations burial ground.

While the primary obligation to protect First Nations cultural heritage sites resides with the provincial government, it has become sadly apparent that the provincial government and Forests Minister Steve Thomson have no intention of exercising this responsibility, notwithstanding requests from WSÁNE´C (Saanich Nation) and the six nations in the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group, the Islands Trust and the CRD board to suspend the site-alteration permit and halt construction of a private residence on the burial island.

In the absence of provincial leadership, I believe it is ethically responsible and legally appropriate for the CRD board to exercise its authority under the B.C. Expropriation Act and acquire title to Grace Islet.

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CBC Radio interview on Grace Islet

Listen to this CBC Radio interview where Ben discusses the strategy of acquiring Grace Islet in Ganges Habour, Salt Spring Island, for the public purpose of protecting the First Nations burial ground.

Sign the Petition Here

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Petition: Expropriate Grace Islet to protect the First Nations burial ground

Grace Islet July 12 2014

The government of British Columbia has refused to show leadership to protect the First Nations burial ground at Grace Islet in Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island electoral area, where construction of a private residence is underway;

Archaeological impact assessments confirm the presence of rock cairns and human remains at the site, consistent with the oral testimony of elders of the W̱SÁNEĆ and Hul'qumi'num Nations;

Local governments have the authority under the Expropriation Act to acquire property for public purposes and fairly compensate the owner;

THEREFORE WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, call on the Capital Regional District Board to show leadership and a genuine commitment to establishing a new relationship with First Nations by acquiring the property known as Grace Islet in Ganges Harbour, for the public purpose of protecting the First Nations burial ground, with fair-market compensation provided to the owner under the provisions of the Expropriation Act.


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Joining the Pride Parade

Pride Parade 2014

Today I participated in the Victoria Pride Parade and festival, joining City Council colleagues and thousands of residents in a celebration of equality, diversity and respect in our community. It is inspiring to see Victoria united around these values!

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