Mayor Lisa Helps is gambling again, possibly staking her political future on a hulking monument to Canada’s first prime minister.
Despite a promise of a public process to discuss the new location for the Sir John A statue, she is putting the idea on hold until after the civic election.
The first roll of the dice was removing the bronze sculpture from the steps of city hall at dawn on Aug. 11, with no formal discussion and only four days advance notice.
This was a “snake eyes” roll on the eve of the election campaign, and after the fallout of public outrage, she had to apologize publicly.
Then last Friday, she issued her strongest public walk-back from the decision yet at a news conference launching her re-election bid, admitting the removal was “a bit clunky.”
The problem with this decision and others that have gone that “haven’t gone well”: “It was a city hall-focused perspective, not a citizen perspective,” she said.
But apologies seem empty unless they’re followed by redress–
launching the process about a new home for John A with that citizen perspective.
Helps will first discuss this issue with the City Family–again–at a meeting on Sept. 24 in the context of reconciliation with the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations.
She will present options to council on a future process in October, just before the election. The City Family is the civic/indigenous group that made the original decision.
The public may also want to know what else is in the planning stages for the Family–the mayor has mentioned joint economic development and the late Esquimalt chief suggested the city cede the top of Beacon Hill.
Of course, Helps will only be around to steer this process if she wins the Oct. 20 election, so the options she offers council may never be realized.
Until then, she prefers to keep this hot-button issue on hold and try to focus on other items like garden suites and speed limits.
There is still one place for the public to have their say: If you have any advice for the mayor on where John A may be repositioned (or not), take our poll.