VICTORIA -- The candidates' campaigns are well underway for the April 4 city council byelection in Victoria.

Nine hopefuls have been pounding the pavement in hopes of filling the council seat vacated by Laurel Collins after she was elected MP in this October's federal election.

Already, affordability and public safety have emerged as big ballot box issues.

CFAX 1070's Adam Stirling predicts the candidates' positions on policing will be important to voters.

"I think one of the big issues is policing," Stirling told CTV News Vancouver Island. "We have seen it at council; it's a controversial issue."

Victoria's police chief Del Manak isn't surprised by that assessment, particularly after a series of budget battles with council over resources and his ongoing calls for more funding for more officers.

"If you're engaged and you've been following what's happening with the Victoria Police Department, you'll know that public safety is an issue, it is a concern," Manak says.

And, according to Focus Magazine's Ross Crockford, the outcome of this byelection could affect decisions on other major issues as well.

"Until now, there was a majority of five councillors – made up of three people from Together Victoria – plus Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday – and they formed a majority of five in certain key issues," Crockford said.

Together Victoria's candidate Stefanie Hardman is facing some stiff competition from eight other candidates. Stirling says the party's reputation for left-leaning politics is embraced by some but not all voters.

"If Together Victoria is returned to that seat, I think it will be seen as an affirmation and I think we will see council continue down that path which, while some agreed with, many did not," said Stirling.

The election is April 4. The first all-candidates meeting is on March 18 and is taking place at the Rotunda on Douglas Street.