Mayor Dean Fortin, City Hall
Q. What drastic changes will our city see in 2013?
I believe 2013 is going to be an exciting year. First, the downtown landscape is going to flourish. With new developments coming to life, our streetscape will look different and hundreds of new downtown residents will add to the vibrancy of the core. The Union on Pandora, the Era on Yates, and the Sovereign on Broughton are examples of new projects that will add to the look and feel of our downtown. Not to mention that construction on the new Johnson Bridge Street will begin!
These new developments will be complemented by the implementation (by September 2013) of a bus-only lane along the Douglas Street corridor during peak hours. This effort will get buses out of the congestion, making bus riders’ commute faster, and hopefully encouraging more people to leave their cars at home.
In our neighbourhoods, 2013 is a year to enjoy the many parks and green spaces that have recently seen investment. The Bike Skills Park in Burnside, the Cridge Park downtown, the Cook Street playground and outdoor fitness circuit, and Fisherman’s Wharf Park are adding to the fantastic family opportunities within our neighbourhoods.
And finally, 2013 is the year we implement kitchen scrap collection. Not only will we see change with the introduction of the Green Bin, but we will be making change by extending the life of the landfill and putting to better use the compostable waste our community produces.
These are just a few of the areas we will see change in the coming year, people should also look for more housing projects to come online and improved health services for the most vulnerable in our community. All these initiatives speak to our ongoing efforts to build a city that is livable, sustainable and welcoming. Happy New Year, everyone.
Jo-Ann Roberts, CBC Radio one
Q. What will be the biggest headlines of 2013?
To borrow from Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, let me say that “these are the stories that may be, only … not the stories of things that will be.” As the Spirit assured Scrooge, there are those who may yet change these stories I am predicting.
B.C. will celebrate Family Day, and employers — again much like Scrooge — will complain that they are poorly served by having to pay a full day’s wages and not get a full day’s work.
Employees will love it — even those who have to work because they’ll get time-and-a-half. By the next year, everyone will be on board.
The PST and GST will return. Accountants, the Bob Cratchits of the world, will silently suffer — there will be a rush to reprogram electronic cash registers. Prices will not go down, and no one will admit that they voted to get rid of the HST, except Bill Vander Zalm.
The election in May will be close, but the NDP will form government. The Green Party will elect its first MLA and, in an act of generosity and political savvy, Premier Adrian Dix will ask the Green Party member to join the cabinet as a parliamentary secretary for the environment.
By fall, the premier will announce that the province has a much higher debt than anyone expected, and will raise the PST by 1 per cent, making people talk about the good old days of the HST.
The hearing into the Enbridge pipeline will finally be over. The committee will recommend that the pipeline not go ahead. Enbridge will say it did not communicate well and will promise to come back with a better proposal.
The debate about the new Blue Bridge will continue, but fewer people will care as the construction goes ahead.
The same will happen with the sewage treatment facility. The new projects that will have people up in arms will be the renovations to the Royal BC Museum and the Victoria Art Gallery.
This promises to be a bang-up year for journalists.
Comrade Black, local activist
Q. What political shift can we expect for 2013?
Here is what I want to honestly say. I want to tell you that 2013 will be the year we win — that we will see the rise of an unstoppable movement for positive change both for humans and other animals.
It will be the year we finally get a safe injection site, while programs like LifeRing expand, helping even more people find sobriety. The division of the rich and poor will cease, vivisection will be outlawed, prison after prison will be shut down, in part because marijuana will be decriminalized. It will be the year the seal slaughter will finally end and Indigenous sovereignty will be recognized as people stand up to take back their communities, lands and lives. Unfortunately I can’t say that with any honesty.
With the Harper conservative government continuously cutting arts funding, funds for programs for prisoners that have been proven to reduce recidivism, funds to take the government to court, and at the same time passing laws that sentence those who wear masks at protests for up to 10 years in prison, laws that create double bunking prisons, and attempting to reopen the debate around abortion — I can only see a further polarization. My honest prediction for 2013 involves more and more good people ending up behind bars for speaking out and standing up. Honestly, I hope I am wrong. Please prove me wrong — it really is up to you.
Alan Rycroft, Community relations, Victoria Cool Aid Society
Q. What will be the greatest social improvement of 2013?
I predict that 2013 is going to be the turn-around year for ending homelessness in the capital region.
For many years, one of Victorians’ top concerns has been helping house the people in our community without homes — 96 per cent of whom want to be housed (we surveyed them).
Together, we have made some good progress: the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness tallied the numbers up recently and together we have built 209 modest apartments for people who have been homeless, since 2009.
Now, coalition partners will seize an even more ambitious goal: their “Procurement Action Plan” calls for the construction of 719 new supportive housing apartments by 2018, plus 245 subsidized apartments in the existing rental market to help house folks who can’t afford Victoria’s expensive rents. It’s going to cost $109.9 million for the new construction.
That sounds like a lot of money, so why do I feel confident that 2013 is the year that Victorians will decide to end homelessness?
The sooner we get this done, the sooner we’ll all be saving taxpayer dollars.
In fact, incredible as it may seem, a Simon Fraser University economic study determined that the average cost savings to taxpayers for housing people in B.C. who have been homeless is $18,000 per year, per person — mostly through tax savings in hospital, emergency shelter, security and justice system costs.
By collectively raising $10 million to get the ball rolling, we will leverage an additional $100 million in capital and save something like $17 million per year. Now that’s a good return on investment.
Better for the people who are homeless. Better for the community. Better for us taxpayers. Win, win, win.
Ken Wu, executive director of Ancient Forest Alliance and Majority for A Sustainable Society
Q. What environmental change can we prepare for in 2013?
The major environmental change for 2013 will be the resurgence of the climate sustainability movement.
This movement is being fueled by Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, by expectations that Obama will act during his last term, by major opposition movements to pipelines and coal, and by the groundswell of climate activism underway in the U.S. through Bill McKibben’s 350.org movement that will inevitably overflow into Canada.
Big Oil’s role in manufacturing public doubt about climate science — despite 98 per cent of the world’s publishing climate scientists agreeing that anthropogenic climate change is underway — is akin to Big Tabacco’s past in casting doubt on the link between cigarettes and lung cancer.
The question now is if the climate movement will grow strong enough, and fast enough, to stop runaway global warming.
Scientists are projecting a four-to-six-degree global temperature rise this century — at two degrees, the feedbacks of burning forests, ice-free warming oceans, permafrost methane release, etcetera, make it virtually impossible to halt global warming, and it won’t stop at just six degrees.
For the climate movement to evolve into a force great enough to change the status quo will require a heavier emphasis on politics and policies to change society, rather than simply voluntary personal lifestyle reforms.
Emphasizing solutions will also be key, along with highlighting the positive attributes of a sustainable, low carbon society for green businesses and jobs, livable cities, healthier lifestyles and sustaining the planet’s natural diversity. As long as the environmental movement is simply the movement of “no” and “stop,” without emphasizing how people can make a living, it will always be too weak to fundamentally transform the status quo. And to change the status quo, it’s key to build a broad-based movement that engages the mainstream public — businesses, faith groups, unions, scientists and diverse communities — rather than simply other activists and “protesters.”
In 2013, I think we’ll see hope come back.