Year of Reconciliation Proclamation

reconciliation

Whereas for thousands of years the Lekwungen people have lived, loved, raised families, fished, hunted and traded on these their traditional territories, and;

Whereas much more recently the City of Victoria was founded upon these territories, and;

Whereas the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report set out 94 Calls to Action, many of which can be actioned by municipalities, and;

Whereas the City of Victoria has adopted some of these Actions to begin a journey of reconciliation between settlers and the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, and;

Whereas reconciliation begins with listening, with truth telling, and with acknowledging past wrongs, and;

Whereas reconciliation can be painful, uncomfortable and re-traumatizing, and;

Whereas reconciliation means honouring the truth, reconciling the future, and taking meaningful action for change, together, on shared terms, to create a bright future;

Now Therefore I do hereby proclaim 2017 as the Year of Reconciliation, on the Traditional Territories of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, in the City of Victoria, the Capital City of the province of British Columbia.

CHEK News and the Times Colonist both provided great coverage of the Proclamation at City Hall today. Thank you.

 

New Year’s Message 2017, Year of Reconciliation

new-years-fire-works-2016

I’ve just returned home from the First Night celebrations downtown. It was so wonderful to see Victorians together, at the inner harbour, marking the turning of the year to Canada’s 150th birthday.

As I was reflecting in advance of this evening, I thought about other places in the world where gatherings in the streets are broken up by gunfire, where girls still don’t have a right to education, where the air quality is so bad it’s difficult to breath sometimes. And then, I thought about Canada.

Canada’s not perfect. We need to close the gap between rich and poor, reconcile with our First Nations, and grow our economy in a truly sustainable and inclusive way. But in Canada, we’ve had 150 years of relative peace, prosperity and acceptance of diversity. Tonight as I gathered with Victorians, and as other Canadians gathered in cities across the country, I realized, once again both my blessing and my luck in being born Canadian.

But we’ve still got lots of work to do. To mark Canada’s 150th in a meaningful way, tomorrow morning at City Hall, the City of Victoria will officially proclaim 2017 as the Year of Reconciliation. We will begin a journey of truth telling, deeping understanding, healing, and moving forward together with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations on whose territories the City of Victoria was founded.

lekwungen-dancers

For Canada’s 150th the City of Victoria will also be participating in 3 Things for Canada, inspired by my colleague Mayor Nenshi in Calgary. We’ll launch this early in the new year and hope you will join us.

In closing, my wish for Victorians in 2017 – and the very best birthday present we can give to Canada for her 150th birthday – is that we treat each other with kindness, and love each other well. Happy New Year!

 

 

Join Us for First Night – Downtown December 31st

img_0081

Join Us for Spirit of 150 Victoria – First Night, A Family Friendly, Multicultural Celebration at Victoria’s Inner Harbour

Date: Wednesday, December 28, 2016
For Immediate Release

VICTORIA, BC — Spirit of 150 Victoria – First Night will be the place to be on New Year’s Eve. On Saturday, from 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., Victoria’s iconic Inner Harbour will be the backdrop for a family-friendly, multicultural celebration, featuring festive lighting displays, live performances, local food vendors and spectacular fireworks to launch Canada’s 150th in 2017.

“We invite the community to bundle up and join us downtown to enjoy the free family-friendly festivities and ring in Canada’s sesquicentennial together,” said Mayor Lisa Helps. “Victoria’s Inner Harbour is rich with First Nations history, and with the City of Victoria having declared 2017 a ‘Year of Reconciliation’, it feels right to begin our reconciliation there on the eve of Canada’s 150th.”

The City of Victoria in partnership with the Greater Victoria Spirit Committee is hosting the event, made possible by $224,000 in funding from Canadian Heritage’s Canada 150 Fund. The City of Victoria is one of 19 municipalities across Canada to receive support from the Canada 150 Fund, designed to create opportunities for Canadians to participate in local, regional and national celebrations that contribute to building a sense of pride and attachment to Canada.

“I would like to thank Canadian Heritage and our many sponsors for making Spirit of 150 Victoria – First Night possible,” said Alan Lowe, Chair of the Greater Victoria Spirit Committee. “We have an exciting line-up of multicultural festivities planned that end early enough for families to enjoy, while enabling others to visit downtown venues after the fireworks to ring in the New Year.”

Fronting Government Street, the First Night Main Stage will be stepped back from the corner of Belleville and Government Streets, between the Royal BC Museum and the Legislature Building.

Emceed by local radio personality Robyn Burns and Vancouver film producer Bruno Baronet, Spirit of 150 Victoria – First Night will kick-off with a First Nations Welcome Ceremony and performances by the Lekwungen Dancers and the Esquimalt Singers and Dancers on the First Night Main Stage, followed by École Campus View Elementary School’s children’s choir singing the bilingual version of the Canadian anthem.

The First Night Main Stage will feature a diverse range of regional and local talent. Headlining the First Night celebrations will be Vancouver-based Dear Rouge, the husband and wife Juno winning duo of Drew and Danielle McTaggart. Their song, “I Heard I Had” peaked in the top 10 of the alternative and rock charts in Canada.

Also taking the Main Stage will be BC resident and Cuban-born, Alex Cuba. Harnessing the sugarcane-sweet melodies and pop-soul hooks, Cuba has won multiple awards including two JUNO Awards and a Latin Grammy Award.

Franco-Manitoban band, Jérémie & The Delicious Hounds, from St. Boniface, will also grace the stage. New to the Winnipeg music scene, these dedicated Francophone musicians gather the sounds of their instruments and their eclectic tastes around leader Jérémie Brémault’s smooth, smoky voice, dynamic range, and earnest stage presence. The Hounds have an inclusive style, and the band pools together into a symphony of soul, funk, reggae, and blues-rock.

Creative projections on buildings surrounding the Inner Harbour and lighting displays will provide a welcoming, illuminated event. In addition to the Main Stage performances, family-friendly activities will include Victoria Harbour Ferries performing a special, festively-lit evening ballet in the Inner Harbour, and the trials bike demonstration featuring the Beshano Bike Trials Club. Children will have the opportunity to meet larger-than-life illuminated puppets roaming the festivities. Canada 150 tattoos and flags will also be available.

The community will be able to warm up with a hot drink and enjoy a delicious meal or snack from one of a dozen of Victoria’s most popular food trucks along Belleville and Government Streets. Spirit of 150 Victoria – First Night will culminate with spectacular fireworks at 9 p.m. set to music over Victoria’s Inner Harbour, timed with fireworks in the nation’s capital viewable on large screens. The event will end at 9:30 p.m.

Transit will run on its usual Saturday schedule on New Year’s Eve, and service will be free after 6 p.m. Additional buses will be added to the regular service to assist those who wish to head home after the firework show.

“The entire Commission and I are happy to support people celebrating the New Year with a free and safe ride home,” said Susan Brice, Chair of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission. “I hope everyone in Victoria has a great time ringing in 2017, and I look forward to another productive year of collaboration in delivering transit solutions for our city.”

VicPD officers and reserves will be greeting the public and ensuring Spirit of 150 Victoria – First Night is a family-friendly event that is fun for everyone.

“Our officers will be on site to support a safe, family-friendly kick-off celebration to Canada’s 150th year,” A/Chief Constable Del Manak said. “Our officers are looking forward to this historic event for our community and our country.”

Roads around the Inner Harbour will close at 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve in preparation for the event to start at 5 p.m.

The public can learn more about what’s planned by visiting the event’s interactive website at Spirit150victoria.ca, the one-stop resource for all Canada 150 events taking place in the Capital Region in 2017. In addition to First Night, 11 days of multicultural programming are planned leading up to Canada’s 150th on Saturday, July 1, 2017.
ATTACHED: Schedule of Events and Road Closure Map

City Plan. City Budget. We Need YOUR Input!

It’s strategic plan time! It’s budget time! And we need your input. Mayor and Council have been working hard for the past two months to put together a bold and innovative strategic plan that will shape the direction we all go together for the next four years. The plan is not a nice wish list. It’s a path forward, with clear, measurable actions and outcomes.

Create Prosperity Through Economic Development. Make Victoria More Affordable. Engage and Empower the Public. Nurture our Arts, Culture and Learning Capital. These are just four of the 13 bold, forward-looking objectives we are aiming to achieve over the next four years to make Victoria into a leading-edge 21st century city.

To make sure we’re heading in the right direction, and spending your money in a way that will get us there, we need your input. Please take the time! If you’ve only got a little bit of time you can fill out the short survey and scratch the surface. If you’ve got more time, take a deep dive.

And, if you like good old-fashioned democracy, like I do, join us for a townhall meeting on the strategic plan and budget, Monday March 23rd 7pm at City Hall. We’re doing things differently this year and we need your help to make it a success. If you can’t make it in person on the 23rd, you can email, tweet or even phone us with your questions and comments and we’ll make sure they become part of the discussion that night.

The goal Council hopes to reach with this budget and this strategic plan is that “Victoria is a leading edge capital city that embraces the future and builds on the past, where human needs and the environment are priorities, where the community feels valued, heard and understood and where City Hall is trusted. Victoria is a city that is livable, affordable, prosperous and vibrant, where we all work in partnership to support opportunities and get things done.”

Together with you, we can make this happen. We look forward to building the city, with you.

Rock Bay Square – Hidden Entrepreneurs and Big Local Talent

When I say “Rock Bay” you think, Ellis Recycle? Rock Bay Landing Shelter? Heavy industry? Down and out? Think again.

Last Tuesday I had the delight of having my socks knocked off during a tour of Rock Bay Square with owner Bob Skene, his daughter Carolyn, and John Juricic, local entrepreneur and economic development keener.

Rock Bay Square is located at 2612–2630 Bridge Street. It was originally built in the early 1920s; the three original buildings have been made into one, and recently renovated. It was once part of a mill, with lumber floating up from the inner harbour. And now? It’s a hub for artisans, light manufacturing, tech, coffee roasting, local honey, and more. It’s a beacon of Victoria’s entrepreneurial future.

In a recent Douglas Magazine article I was asked, “What do we need to do to become a more entrepreneurial city?” My response, “This is what really gets me. We are an entrepreneurial city.” This became the title of the article. What we need to do is start with this premise – we are entrepreneurial – and to nurture this entrepreneurial spirit.

How? Rock Bay Square is a great example. Co-locate and incubate. Start-ups need affordable flexible space, a ready-made community to bounce ideas off, and the ability to grow in situ. If you’re like Toni Desrosiers (below) of Abeego and you just signed a deal with a major distributer in the UK it’s really handy to have a landlord willing to knock down a wall for you so you can expand your capacity without the hassle of moving.

If you’re an artist and you need a room of your own with good natural light, you can rent a space like this one for $300 per month.

Rock Bay Square, like Space Station, Space BarFort Tectoria, and The Dock Centre for Social Impact offer co-location and incubation. And they also have a key ingredient desired by the up and coming generation of Victoria entrepreneurs. They create community. What inspired me most was the sense of community among the businesses we visited. While they’re putting Victoria on the map internationally, they’re invested here.

Artist Rande Cooke smiling with coffee mug in hand (pictured at top), has been commissioned by clients from all over the globe. He asks me as we visit his studio, how can we make Rock Bay Square and all the entrepreneurial activity here more visible. And he offers to help. I accept enthusiastically and direct him here.

Aaron (below) at Second Crack Coffee Lab – a recently opened coffee shop right on Bridge Street – sees his shop not only as a community gathering space but also as an educational place and is working on a potential partnership with Camosun College.

Frontier Marketing Co. (below) strengthens charities through efficient and effective long-term fundraising. This growing Victoria social enterprise is currently working with about 20 charities across Canada. And here at home, they sub-lease their space, desk by desk, to other entrepreneurs looking for good company and affordable start-up space.

I’m buoyed by the creativity, diversity and business growth in this tucked away corner of Victoria. It’s a microcosm of Victoria’s future. We are an entrepreneurial city. As your mayor I’m committed to fostering a spirit of collaboration and a can-do attitude at City Hall to meet this entrepreneurial spirit and to raise it.

Inspired Community Conversation

 

My office was jam packed last Friday. Over the course of the two-hour Community Drop In about 40 people came through. Most stayed for the whole time. I was wowed, as I have been since I started doing these drop ins, by the wisdom, compassion, generosity and hard work of Victorians.

Here’s how it goes: People pile in, pour themselves a cup of coffee or tea, slap on a name tag and find a seat. First thing I do is ask, “What’s the agenda?” the agenda is set by the people who come. Here’s the agenda from last Friday.

Everyone introduces themselves and says why they came, then we go through the agenda. I keep things moving so every topic gets covered. I track action items so nothing gets dropped and I can do the follow up work I say I’ll do. People share ideas and ways to get connected on the whiteboard.

At 1pm promptly I run off to wherever I’m going next and people stay as long as they need to exchange information and connect with each other.

Some Highlights from Last Friday’s Community Drop In

A Pedestrian Mall is Not A Closed Street
There has been much talk about Government Street lately. Much of the talk has been about storefront vacancies and closing it to cars. The discussion on Friday was not about closing Government Street, but rather, about opening it up. Members from the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network and Walk On Victoria talked about their plans to work with the Downtown Victoria Business Association and Government Street Merchants to ‘place make’ Government Street. To open it up to more people this summer. I said that I’d be happy to help move their proposal forward once it is developed, with input from everyone affected.

Homeless in a Park
A woman came to talk with me about how distressed she was by homeless people sleeping in a park near her house. And the people there who were homeless said they were distressed because they had nowhere safe to sleep. No one even had to connect the dots. She spoke. Then they spoke. And a hush fell over the rest of us as they quickly developed a shared understanding that they had a common problem.

Then the generous and wise group set to work coming up with solutions. Someone from the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network suggested engaging the Reserve Constables from the Police Department – who just had some training in this regard – to convene a conversation between the nearby homeowners and the people camping in the park to find some shared solutions. I said I’d make sure everyone gets connected. Someone else suggested that maybe City Hall needs to designate a permanent place for people to camp and provide facilities. I said I’d raise this with Council. Ben Isitt has also proposed this. One of the people who is currently homeless said it’s really hard if you’re sick and you just want to stay in bed and get well and you have to take your tent down at 7am. A third person – a homeless veteran – suggested that the armouries could easily sleep 350 people and that they should be asked to open their doors.

Small Business Struggles
A young entrepreneur wants to open a restaurant. He came just to let me know about the struggles he’s having, especially because rents are so high. The place he was looking at is 800 square feet. The base rent is $35 per square foot. The triple net (which a commercial landlord in attendance explained to the group was “all expenses related to the building, including property taxes”) is $17 per square foot, $11 of which is for property taxes. That’s more than he can afford to get his business off the ground. Everyone jumped in with names of building owners he could talk with, and ideas about how to help young start ups, including checking out the Young Entrepreneurs Society. Prosperity through Economic Development is one of the proposed objectives for Council’s Strategic Plan and is something that I would like to lead.

The Oath I Never Took

 

The final moment of the inspired conversation was when a First Nations woman, who had sat quietly for the most part stood up at the end to present a shawl to me that she had made. She had made it to thank me for not taking an Oath to the Queen but rather for focusing my efforts and attention on the people, and on her people. She explained that the design is a beaver with a rising sun. Her uncle said to her, “But a beaver is not a symbol for our people.”

She said she knew at that moment, when her uncle said this, that she was making the shawl for me – the beaver is a symbol of Canada, the sun, a symbol of her people, the First Nations and Canada working towards reconciliation. She said she had faith in me, that I have the courage that it takes to make the changes that are needed. There was no longer a dry eye in the room.

Join Us
I hold these Community Conversations every two weeks. Different people come every time. The schedule is here. When I started them in January I had no idea what would happen. Community is happening. Connection is happening. Happiness and belonging and the road to prosperity are happening. People are coming together, and leaving with more than they came with whether it’s a new connection, a new idea or a commitment to take some kind of action, big or small, that will make Victoria better.

What is a Strategic Plan and How Do We Make One?

A strategic plan is not a wish list or a to do list. It’s not a simple list of priorities. It’s not a list of tactics or actions. A strategic plan is a ‘living document’ set by a board of directors – in this case Council – to guide the strategic focus of the organization for a set period of time.

A strategic plan allows us, as the people you’ve elected to govern the City, to be proactive, future-focused, and action-ready. We start by setting a high-level strategic goal, deciding the strategic objectives we need to pursue to achieve that goal, and then determining high-level actions that we direct our staff to implement in order to achieve these objectives.

If this sounds a bit ungrounded right now, not to worry. As we determine the goal, objectives and actions we’ll share them with you before adopting the plan. We want to make sure we’re creating the kind of city you elected us to and doing it in such a way that is inclusive, bold and forward-looking.

In our last term of office, it took Mayor and Council 11 months to complete a strategic planning process. This meant that staff went nearly a year without direction from Council as to what our strategic focus and priorities would be for the term. This time, we’ve committed to completing our Strategic Plan within the first quarter of 2015. This way we can give clear direction to, and empower, our staff as early in the term as possible so we’re not wasting time.

At the beginning of the strategic planning process, I presented the following report and recommendation to Council. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­In the interests of transparency and inclusiveness, even though the first two meetings were held in closed session, Council chose to rise and report on the entire report and strategic planning agenda. I share it here in its entirety. Feel free to join us in person at City Hall or online here as we set to work creating a high-level strategic plan for our four year term.

Governance and Priorities Report, January 26th 2015
Recommendation
That Council adopt the following strategic planning process.

Summary
The objective of the strategic planning process is to end up with a concrete strategic plan that will guide the decisions of Council and the work of staff for the next four years. Once in place, Council will review the plan on a regular basis and update it according to emerging priorities and the will of Council.

In order to have a plan with concrete outcomes that reflects the will of council and the aspirations of the public, we need to do three things. First, we need everyone on council to feel good about the strategic planning process and to feel like there is room for everyone’s ideas to be considered. Second, we need to focus the discussion on concrete problems and concrete solutions. Third, we need to share the plan with the public and ask for high-level input before we adopt it.

Monday January 26th 9:00-3:00
In camera, Council, City Manager, Director Citizen Engagement and Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning Warm-Up with Tracey Lorenson
A facilitated session with Tracey Lorenson to agree on some high level principles for working together, develop a sense of what a strategic plan is and what we want it to do, and begin to discuss high-level goals.

Objectives:
a.) Stretch our ‘working together’ muscles
b.) Discuss what each person would like to get out of the strategic planning process and out of the experience of working together for the next four years
c.) Agree on some basic principles and values for working together
d.) Begin to identify themes and one high level goal that the plan can aim to achieve

Wednesday January 28th 9:00am-1:00pm
In camera, Council, City Manager, Director Citizen Engagement and Strategic Planning

Section 1 Where We Are and Where We’re Going
A facilitated discussion to flesh out the problems we’d like to solve and some agreement on the desired reality we’d like to get to.

Objective:
Come to agreement about what is wrong and where we would like to take the City, at a very high level (agree on a shared goal) in the next four years.

Section 1 – Where We Are and Where We’re Going

  1. Start by listing the top ten things that we think are wrong with the city.
  2. Distil everything that is wrong into one sentence.
  3. If our answer to number two is the current reality, then, in one sentence, what is our desired reality?

Monday February  2nd  9am–12 pm
Public

Sections 2 and 3 Big Dreams and Reality Check and Learning From Elsewhere
A facilitated discussion led to flesh out everyone’s big ideas, blue sky scenarios, as well as small things we’d like to see. This is also a structured opportunity for people to bring ideas they’re seen work well in other places.

Objectives:
a.) Begin to identify some of the really big things we’d like to accomplish in the next four years as well as some of the smaller, easier wins. These will tie into the final day of planning.

b.) Share ideas and success stories from other places and asses which, if any we might like to pilot in Victoria. These will tie into the final day of planning. 

Section 2 – Big Dreams and Reality Check

  1. If the City of Victoria had all the time and all the resources in the world what would we do? (Dream big!)
  2. If the City had little time and few resources, what would we do?

Section 3 – Learning From Elsewhere

  1. What cities in the world do you think Victoria has something to learn from?
  2. What are some concrete things we can learn from these cities?

Tuesday February 3rd 9am – 3pm
Public 

Section 4 Passions, Outcomes and Concrete Actions (Part 1)

A facilitated discussion to bring everything together into high-level concrete outcomes and actions. This will loop back to where we started in order to make sure that what the things we said were ‘wrong’ in Question 1 Section 1 are addressed by the outcomes and actions we agree to. This will be the meatiest session and this is where we will actually begin to make decisions.

Objectives:
a.) Learn more about what each Councillor is interested in working on

b.) Determine the high-level plan ‘headings’ or ‘priorities’
b.) Begin to settle on high level outcomes (deliverables) and actions 

Section 4 – Passions, Concrete Outcomes and Actions

  1. What are you passionate about working on?
  2. Now, get concrete about your passions! At the end of four years, we will have achieved these ten concrete outcomes:
    1. 
    2.
    etc.
  3. List the actions we think the City can take to achieve these outcomes.

Thursday February 5th 12pm – 4pm
Public

Section 4 Passions, Outcomes and Concrete Actions (Part 2)
A facilitated discussion to bring everything together into high-level concrete outcomes and actions. This will loop back to where we started in order to make sure that what the things we said were ‘wrong’ in Question 1 Section 1 are addressed by the outcomes and actions we agree to. This will be the meatiest session and this is where we will actually begin to make decisions.

Objectives:
a.) To clean up and tie up our work from the previous four sessions
b.) To make decisions on the high-level plan ‘headings’ or ‘priorities’
c.) To make decisions on the high level outcomes (deliverables) and actions  
d.) To direct staff to produce a draft strategic plan for input from Council and the public

Focussed on the Future: Council Visits Crystal Pool

Council had a tour of Crystal Pool today. I worked with the City Manager to arrange this for today because I thought it was a good idea for Council to tour the facility in advance of having a discussion about it at Thursday’s meeting. And Council held the New Year’s Levy there this year, in part, to send a signal to the public that this is an important community facility that deserves and requires Council’s attention.

Like many of you, I value the facility and use it regularly. If it makes most financial long-term sense to reinvest in and refurbish the current facility, I would support this. As tomorrow’s report to the Governance and Priorities Committee shows, we still need more information to determine if this is possible and if there is long-term financial benefit to refurbishment.

Should the City decide to rebuild rather than refurbish the pool, I would like us to keep our options open as to how we get to a publicly run swimming pool. What I would like to see, should we need to rebuild the pool is to develop a business case for a Crystal Pool and Wellness Centre that incorporates a publicly owned and operated swimming pool and recreation centre as well as commercial / retail space and housing.

This may require a partnership with the non-profit or private sector for the housing portion and for the commercial space (for doctor’s office, massage therapist, chiropractor etc). As stewards of public assets Council has a responsibility to put those assets to their best and highest use.

One thing I can assure you of is that I’m as committed to public participation as I am to Crystal Pool. Before Council makes any long-term decision about what to do with the site, I favour a deep and meaningful public participation process. In this process we will share information about the pool as well as the other City facilities that are in need up upgrade and repair and we will gather information about what is important to you in a public recreation facility.

Mayor’s Community Drop In

Join me this Friday 8-10am, Mayor’s Office

In Community: The Structure of Belonging Peter Block writes that “the leader is held to three tasks: to shift the context in which people gather, to name the debate through powerful questions, and to listen rather than advocate, defend or provide answers.” This is the spirit in which I’m piloting a new format of the mayor’s regular time with the public.

As Mayor, I want members of the public to have the opportunity to drop in and see me. It’s also important for me that people have an opportunity to meet others, engage in conversation, and share thoughts, ideas and concerns, and to build community and a sense of belonging.

 To this end, I’m going to pilot my regular time with the public every two weeks as a community conversation rather than a series of 10 minute one-on-one meetings, as has been done in the past. This will allow me to hear your hopes, ideas and concerns for our city, but not in a vacuum. Others can chime in too. My experience is that the public has lots of wisdom, the ability to make connections, and to help come up with solutions.  I’ll take notes and make sure that if you do have something that needs to be passed along to one of our operational departments or to Council for consideration, that’ll happen.

I look forward to welcoming you on the comfy couches in the Mayor’s office and to making you a cup of tea.

Dates here for the rest of the year if you can’t join me this Friday.

What Does A Mayor Do?

I had a group of kids visit me at City Hall a few weeks ago – home learners taking a Civics 101 class. About 20 of them sat down around a table with me, and peppered me with questions. The first question they asked, “What does a mayor do?” I’ve been asked this question a lot since taking office and from a wide variety of people.

What does a mayor do? And what is this mayor going to do?

The roles and responsibilities of the mayor are very clearly outlined in the Community Charter, which is the provincial legislation through which municipalities get their power. Bear with me and check out the relevant section of the Community Charter. Then – before your eyes glaze over from legal speak ­­– I’ll tell you what I think is most important and what I’d like to focus on as your mayor for the next four years.

Responsibilities of Mayor
116 (1) The mayor is the head and chief executive officer of the municipality.

(2) In addition to the mayor’s responsibilities as a member of council, the mayor has the following responsibilities:

(a) to provide leadership to the council, including by recommending bylaws, resolutions and other measures that, in the mayor’s opinion, may assist the peace, order and good government of the municipality;

(b) to communicate information to the council;

(c) to preside at council meetings when in attendance;

(d) to provide, on behalf of the council, general direction to municipal officers respecting implementation of municipal policies, programs and other directions of the council;

(e) to establish standing committees in accordance with section 141;

(f) to suspend municipal officers and employees in accordance with section 151;

(g) to reflect the will of council and to carry out other duties on behalf of the council;

(h) to carry out other duties assigned under this or any other Act.

Leadership. Communication. Direction.
These are the words that resonate. Let’s focus on leadership. To me, providing leadership to the Council doesn’t just mean chairing meetings, representing the Council at public events, or being the spokesperson on Council decisions. These things are easy to do.

Providing leadership, to me, means being a proactive, forward-looking, big-picture mayor, focused on the strategic direction of the City in the short, medium and long term. It means being willing to bring forward and recommend resolutions that are bold and that take ‘good government’ in a 21st century direction of openness, meaningful public participation, and new modes of collaboration, to name a few.

Being this kind of mayor requires focus, discipline and time.

Rigid Discipline and Ruthless Focus
When I was a Ph.D. student, responsible only to myself and my dissertation committee, I was rigidly disciplined and ruthlessly focused. Over the past five years starting and running Community Micro Lending and working hard as a City Councilor I lost much of that discipline and focus.

It’s easy to open my email inbox, respond to all the new emails and feel like I’m getting lots done. Or to engage in a lengthy Twitter or Facebook conversation, or have seven back-to-back one-on-one meetings and feel like I’m moving things forward. To be an effective mayor I need to find a strong balance between immediate demands and strategic focus.

So, I spent the December holiday planning how to bring discipline and focus with me to the position of mayor. What principles can I apply to help shape the bulk of my time before I answer emails, respond to tweets, settle in at a coffee shop for a one-on-one?

As the Community Charter says, “The mayor is the head and chief executive officer of the municipality.” In the private sector, a CEO’s job is to set the strategy and vision and oversee implementation, create a positive organizational culture, build a strong team, and allocate capital.

What MUST I do?
Each morning I ask myself, “What MUST I do today to focus on strategy, vision, organizational culture, team building and financial oversight at the City of Victoria?” And then, I make a list. Right now most of the list items are focused on strategic planning, building relationships with other community leaders, working hard with the Council and staff to create a positive organizational culture and build a strong team. If I lose my way during the day, find myself lost in the world of email or twitter, responding to immediate needs, I return to my MUST list. It’s become a touchstone and a guide.

You’ll still find me answering emails, responding to tweets, and meeting one-on-one, most often at HabitSolstice or 2 Per Cent Jazz. But hopefully only after my “What MUST I do today?” list has satisfying check marks beside every item.