Victoria mayoral candidate Rob Duncan announced Wednesday he has left the race, endorsing fellow candidate Michael Geoghegan instead.
Duncan, a resident of Fernwood, was one of the first candidates to announce his bid for the mayor’s seat back in February, running a campaign dedicated to what he calls “Victoria’s housing crisis.”
In a statement, Duncan said Geoghegan’s housing platform is “remarkably similar” to his, namely what he feels has been a lack of policy in effectively addressing the growing issue of affordability.
“I’m confident Mike is a solid progressive candidate of the kind Victoria needs,” Duncan said.
Affordability is an important issue in the 2018 municipal election. Many lower- and middle-income households spend more than they can afford on housing and transportation, leaving insufficient money to spend on other essential goods such as food and healthcare. Solving this problem requires local policy changes which increase development of affordable housing types (secondary suites, multiplexes, townhouses and low-rise apartments) in walkable urban neighborhoods. This will require municipal government action.
To help voters evaluate candidates’ positions on affordability, Cities for Everyone surveyed mayor and city council candidates in Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay. Of 93 candidates contacted we received 31 completed surveys. We also analyzed candidates’ websites and interviews, and incumbents’ voting records (see graph below), and their electability based on name recognition and the quality of their campaign. This column summarizes our results (click here for PDF version).
Government relations consultant Michael Geoghegan, is focusing on affordable housing and the need for more development. He opposes Helps’s proposal to reduce default speed limits to 30 kilometres an hour from 50 on neighbourhood streets. He has an endorsement on his website from Langford’s can-do, pro-development Mayor Stewart Young.
“I see us headed toward a very bleak future where Victoria is going to be a city of the very rich and the very poor, and all the working class and middle class people are driven out of it,” Geoghegan said.
The city needs to get faster at approving housing developments and to reduce red tape that adds significantly to the cost of construction, he said. There’s also a need for more low-income and co-op housing, as well as more housing for students at the University of Victoria and Camosun College, which would free up other rentals in the city.
While the latter ideas would require the involvement of senior levels of government, as would addressing homelessness more generally, Geoghegan noted, “I make my living getting stuff out of the provincial and federal governments.”
He said he worries about businesses closing downtown and cited Chapters moving out to a mall and the closure of a 100-year-old bakery on Johnson Street. Bike lanes have led to reduced visits to downtown and increased congestion, he said.
Geoghegan is also pledging to make recreation centre admissions free for people under 18 years old, a policy he says would make life more affordable, offer health benefits and reduce crimes of boredom in the city.
“If people want to see a city that functions better and functions better for the majority of our residents, I’m the natural choice,” he said. “I’m the positive, pragmatic, common sense alternative.”
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Well, this is coming right out and saying it.... regarding the number of people heard to be running for Mayor in the City of Victoria: “Certainly a lot of people are very unhappy with the current mayor and some of the decisions she has made,” says Michael Geoghegan who is running for Mayor of Victoria.
Geoghegan's lead issue is housing. "The obvious solution is we need to build low income housing, throughout the region," he told West Shore Voice News this week. He suggests cutting the red tape – as Langford has done – to more quickly advance affordable housing development. "It should not take years to get projects approved.” He says the BC Energy Step Code adds significantly to the cost of every unit built in Victoria and Saanich, which gets passed on to the buyer. Shovel-ready projects are key, so that construction can begin promptly once funding is achieved.
“Tent city is a crisis.” He says even just a few years ago a person could rent an entire floor of a house for now what's required to rent a 1 bedroom suite in an older building. “We need to go after the federal and provincial government for low-income housing dollars,” he says, adding that municipalities take an unfair share of the burden when people are homeless or struggling with housing. Studies have shown – when it comes to health care and social services system – it’s far more expensive to have people homeless than to provide them with basic housing. “And if we build enough rental, rents stop skyrocketing.”
Geoghegan, 52, believes in healthy communities, and would like to see anyone under age 18 get a free annual rec pass. "Healthier, more active kids get into less trouble and become healthier adults. We save on healthcare costs down the road as a society.”
The bike lanes have been a "$15 million disaster", resulting in reduced flow of traffic in the downtown core, increasing congestion, and people have been injured. “Bike lanes should have been one lane going down secondary roads not two-way lanes down major arterial roads.” He wants to see Victoria become a notable tech center, similar to what’s seen in other major cities, as a way to boost the economy and provide jobs.
Geoghegan served for seven years on the City of Langford planning and zoning committee. He also worked at the BC legislature as a provincial ministerial assistant during the 1991-1996 government of NDP premier Mike Harcourt, and now for over 20 years has been a government relations consultant (lobbyist).
A few weeks ago he took a hiatus from his ‘Monday Morning Mike’ radio show on CFAX. Michael Geoghegan is running for mayor in the City of Victoria.
Times Colonist: Consultant Mike Geoghegan makes bid for Victoria mayoralty
by Richard Watts
Political consultant Michael Geoghegan announced Wednesday that he’s running for mayor of Victoria, with a First Nations leader, three shipyard unionists and the sculptor of the recently removed statue of John A. Macdonald lending support.
Geoghegan said he wants to end bureaucratic red tape and stop the not-in-my-backyard attitudes that are stalling the creation of more affordable housing in Victoria.
“This is a watershed election,” he told about 30 people gathered on the legislature grounds. “We are sleepwalking into a dystopia where only the very wealthy and the very poor will live.”
Alongside Geoghegan was Russ Chipps, chief councillor of the Beecher Bay First Nation, who credited Geoghegan for helping his people negotiate land swaps with neighbouring municipalities Langford and Metchosin.
Representatives of three shipyard workers’ unions — sheet metal workers, electricians and plumbers/pipe fitters — were also at the announcement voicing support.
Phil Venoit, business manager of the IBEW Local 230 representing electrical workers, said Geoghegan was instrumental in bringing federal shipyard work to B.C., building vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard when Eastern shipyards wanted the contract.
Also there was sculptor John Dann, creator of the 36-year-old statue of John A. Macdonald, which was removed Aug. 11 from the entrance to Victoria City Hall, two days after council voted 7-1 in favour. Coun. Geoff Young was the lone dissenter.
The statue was removed as part of a Victoria effort at reconciliation with First Nations. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, is said to have been instrumental in policies that harmed First Nations, including the imposition of residential schools.
Dann said if he thought his statue was an offence to First Nations, he would have demanded its removal himself. The decision and quickfire removal so angered him he considered running himself, he said.
Instead, Dann said he is endorsing Geoghegan, who condemned Mayor Lisa Helps for the statue’s removal.
“We don’t need a mayor who would rather tear down statues than promote the building of housing for the poor and middle class,” Geoghegan said.
He announced his candidacy from a rose garden on the grounds of the legislature. A legislature official said Geoghegan filled out a form requesting a “public use of grounds” and was granted permission.
Geoghegan, 52, entered politics as a provincial ministerial assistant during the 1991-1996 government of NDP premier Mike Harcourt.
Since then he was worked as an analyst and consultant.
Geoghegan lives mostly in Saanich, where he has a condominium. He also owns a home in Victoria.
This is his second run at municipal politics. Last year, Geoghegan lost in the Saanich byelection to fill the space vacated after Coun. Vic Derman died.
At Wednesday’s announcement, Geoghegan said he isn’t running in Saanich because that municipality already has enough good candidates.
Geoghegan is one of nine candidates running for mayor of Victoria in the Oct. 20 municipal election. The others are Gary Beyer, Rob Duncan, Stephen Hammond, Lisa Helps, Sein Leitenberg, Ryan Moen, Bruce McGuigan and Chris Zmuda.
For more information, including links to the candidates’ websites, go to timescolonist.com/elections .
The latest entrant in the race to unseat Lisa Helps as mayor of Victoria in the Oct. 20 civic election is a lobbyist who wants to push the pause button on bike lanes, but press fast forward on affordable housing.
Michael Geoghegan, 52, will announce his campaign on Sept. 5 in the shadow of the Parliament Buildings, where he came to work as a ministerial aide in the Mike Harcourt NDP government in the early 1990s. Since 1996, Geoghegan has lobbied municipal, provincial and the federal officials on behalf of a variety of clients, including the Council of Construction Trades Associations, Electrical Contractors Association of B.C., and Mortgage Brokers Association of B.C. He was asked why the public should trust a lobbyist to run city hall.
“If you want to build more housing you pretty much need to vote for the guy who has got the connections to the housing sector to deliver that. For the rest of them it’s just a talking point, it’s not reality,” Geoghegan told theBreaker.
“You can bet I will be using all those connections with one clear objective: increase the supply of affordable and low income housing. It’s not about me giving favours to X, Y and Z, it’s how can I increase the inventory.”
Geoghegan said that, if elected, he would quit his lobbying business and be a full-time mayor. He is open to the concept of a municipal lobbyist registry, like the ones that he applied to federally and provincially.
“Everyone is going to be treated with fairness, my number one loyalty is to the young couple who is looking for somewhere to live to raise a family, my loyalty is to the working person who can’t afford a place to live and needs a place to rent. That’s my number one loyalty.”
Geoghegan said the application process for residential housing needs to be streamlined to lessen delays and costs faced by developers. He points to Victoria suburb Langford as an example of less red tape and quicker approvals.
He fears that, without those changes, Victoria will become more like parts of Vancouver, “where you have neighbourhoods and entire runs of houses absent for most months of the year. Meanwhile we’re going to have parks full of people in tents and in campers on side streets. That’s a pretty dystopian, third world kind of city that I certainly wouldn’t want to live it. But that’s where we’re headed.”
Geoghegan also points to the downtown Victoria bike lane network, which has doubled in price to $14.5 million under Helps and could wind-up being more than $20 million. Geoghegan said he cycles to his Monday morning show on CFAX radio, but said dedicated routes should be relocated to secondary streets. He is taking aim at a planned bike lane down Wharf Street that would impede traffic going to and from the Harbour Air seaplane terminal. Floatplanes are integral to the business of government between downtown Vancouver and downtown Victoria, he said.
Helps made national news in August for ramming through the removal from city hall of the Sir John A. Macdonald statue with little public input. Geoghegan said he wants to take the 1982 work of sculptor John Dann out of storage and display it on the grounds of the Empress Hotel, Legislature or Beacon Hill Park because the good, bad and ugly of B.C.’s past should not be forgotten. “We need to own our history,” he said.
“We didn’t have a statue of him at city hall in terms of celebrating any of the things he did wrong, it was simply noting the interesting historical fact that for one of his terms in office he actually, technically was the MP from Victoria while he was the Prime Minister in Ottawa. We should relocate that statue and, maybe, to put it in its proper context, maybe we should have a statue of [Port Alberni-born] Kim Campbell there. She was also a Prime Minister from British Columbia. B.C. has a somewhat tenuous relationship in terms of electing prime ministers. John Turner was briefly Prime Minister of Canada as well.”
Geoghegan has served on the Langford planning and zoning committee and finished fourth in last fall’s Saanich city council by-election.
His platform also includes a free annual pass to city recreational facilities for children 18 and under, improving street light timing to enable better flow of vehicles, and a one-time fee for business licences to replace annual renewals.
Geoghegan and five others are vying to defeat Helps, who was elected in 2014. Candidates have until Sept. 14 to file papers with city hall.https://thebreaker.news/news/big-mike-challenges-helps/