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Key change: Alto and new council take their oaths of office

New mayor emphasizes balance and bike lanes during inaugural address

By Shannon Waters
November 3, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Key change: Alto and new council take their oaths of office

New mayor emphasizes balance and bike lanes during inaugural address

New Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto takes her oath of office Nov. 3 at City Hall. Photo: Shannon Waters / Capital Daily
New Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto takes her oath of office Nov. 3 at City Hall. Photo: Shannon Waters / Capital Daily
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Key change: Alto and new council take their oaths of office

New mayor emphasizes balance and bike lanes during inaugural address

By Shannon Waters
November 3, 2022
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Key change: Alto and new council take their oaths of office
New Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto takes her oath of office Nov. 3 at City Hall. Photo: Shannon Waters / Capital Daily

Thursday’s inaugural meeting of Victoria’s newly elected mayor and council began with a procession led by the Lekwungen Traditional Dancers, a land acknowledgement from Songhees Nation member Brianna Bear and a greeting by Chief Ron Sam.

Councillors took their oaths in alphabetical order, beginning with Jeremy Caradonna and ending with Dave Thompson. Just three of the new council members followed their oath of office with the optional oath of allegiance to King Charles III: Chris Coleman, Marg Gardiner and Stephen Hammond.

The new faces around the council table fill Mayor Marianne Alto with “confidence and excitement and hope.”

“‘Hope’ is not a plan, but no plan works without hope,” Alto said during her inaugural address as mayor.

“I believe we have a diverse collective of incredibly talented people who will soon learn what is doable, what is possible, and how to make all those complex ideas that may seem impossible, achievable,” she added. “And how all of our ideas need to complement the critically important core services city staff provide to every resident on which they rely every day.”

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Alto also reflected on the work of the previous councils she was part of, finding a way to wink at the most vitriol-inspiring of city policies.

“Those councils talked about the way Victorians can now move around—and yes, bike lanes,” Alto said to enthusiastic applause from those in attendance.

Following the ceremony, Alto told Capital Daily the bike lane brouhaha is emblematic of the challenges of forward-thinking governance.

“It's an example of how difficult it is sometimes to futurecast,” Alto said. “You have to cast your mind to the people who are here in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years—what do they expect? I'm not a cyclist—I have a bicycle, but I don't use it much—but my kids do. That generation expects those options so we have to think about that. It's today and the future, they have to be balanced.”

Much of Alto’s inaugural speech mirrored what she told Capital Daily during an introductory interview last week, including her belief that—while much of the previous council’s actions were embraced by Victoria residents—the pace of policy progress was overwhelming for some.

Under her leadership, “there will be time for this council to take a breath,” Alto said. (Former Mayor Lisa Helps, in reflecting on her own time in office, expressed a similar expectation that the pace of change will slow under the new council.)

“This brand new council will take a little time to learn from and about one another and from our expert staff,” Alto said. “A little time to share, absorb, understand and prepare for the complex, enormous struggle ahead of us.”

Couns Gardiner, Dell, Coleman and Caradonna clap following Alto's inaurgural address. Photo: Shannon Waters / Capital Daily

That said, Alto isn’t intending for the city to sit still during her time. She has repeatedly emphasized her eagerness for Victoria to grow out of its “big town” status.

“It's time to embrace Victoria as a city—a city practically and realistically preparing for the future,” she said.

Alto’s early priorities include getting into the budget process and strategic planning as well as drafting a code of conduct for both council and the public (in council meetings) to abide by. Committee appointments will be apportioned in the coming weeks, likely a little later than usual to allow time for the new council to figure out where its members’ interests and expertise lie and match them to committee needs.

Councillor Susan Kim told Capital Daily she appreciated the personal tone of Alto’s speech

“I think that that speaks volumes about her approach…which is very personal and relational,” Kim said. “We see that in the work that she's done with different local First Nations as well. That's the kind of leadership I'm really excited to be working under.”

As one of the many new faces on council, Kim plans to spend the early part of her term learning and gathering context.

“My priorities are going to be informed by what I hear from folks who call and show up to council meetings and email me because I'm here to represent and I'm here to be held accountable,” she said. “I don't think it's fair that I just go out of the gate with my own agenda, it has to be informed by what I'm hearing.”

In the weeks since election day, Kim said she has spent a lot of time reading up on what to expect as a municipal leader.

“I'm wondering if I should be increasing my eyeglass prescription,” she joked.

Article Author's Profile Picture
Shannon Waters
Municipal affairs reporter
[email protected]

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