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Former Victoria mayor Lisa Helps appointed premier's adviser on housing support

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Former Victoria mayor Lisa Helps will help advise B.C. Premier David Eby on housing solutions, the province announced Thursday.

Helps, who was mayor of Victoria from 2014 to 2022, will work with Ravi Kahlon, minister of the newly formed B.C. Ministry of Housing, which was launched last year by the incoming premier.

The ministry is responsible for working with stakeholders and partners on housing solutions in the province, as well as designing and developing the BC Builds program – which is intended to bolster housing for middle-income families, individuals and seniors.

"The current reality is that many people in our province struggle to find housing, even if they earn a good income," said Eby in a release Thursday.

"I’m very pleased that Lisa Helps has agreed to use her years of leadership to help us work on innovative solutions, like BC Builds, to make it easier for people to find a good place to live in their communities," he said.

Two other special advisers were recently announced in B.C.

Dr. Penny Ballem, who was the head of B.C.'s COVID-19 vaccine campaign, was named the premier’s health systems specialist.

Meanwhile, lawyer Doug White was appointed the special counsel to premier on Indigenous reconciliation.

"Doug, Penny and Lisa have tremendous amounts of experience and they are all very motivated to help take concrete action on the issues important to British Columbians," said Eby.

In 2021, Helps made it clear she was not going to run for re-election as Victoria's mayor.

On her last day in the role in 2022, Helps said she would be interested in working in the fields of housing, climate change or reconciliation once her tenure as mayor was over.

"The most pressing issue, though, in our city and province and country is housing," she said at the time.

"Not only housing for people who are currently living on the street and living in tents, that's obviously important, but housing for the middle class," said Helps.

"Housing for working people, working families. It's a bit of a shame that we've somehow normalized that a young family with two good jobs won't be ever be able to buy a home. That is not OK," she said. 

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