September 22, 2016

Council Highlights provide a snapshot of the progress made on City programs, initiatives and on Council decision-making. For more information on each initiative, please visit the accompanying link where noted.

We welcome anyone who would like to receive Council Highlights to email us at engage@victoria.ca.

Medical Cannabis Regulations Now in Effect

All cannabis dispensaries are now required to purchase a business licence ($5,000) and go through a rezoning ($7,500) in order to operate. 

Some of the rezoning requirements include a 200-metre distance between retailers, as well as between retailers and a school. The new regulations are designed to reduce impacts on the community while maintaining access to medical cannabis. 

Storefront cannabis retailers that began operation after July 28, 2016 must comply with the new regulations immediately, meaning these businesses cannot operate until their rezoning application has been approved by City Council. Storefront cannabis retailers that were in operation prior to July 28, 2016 may continue to operate while making progress towards a rezoning, however they must comply with operational requirements immediately. City Council has established the Cannabis-Related Business Regulation Bylaw to regulate businesses selling cannabis for medical purposes. The new regulations do not legalize or permit the sale of cannabis as this is the jurisdiction of the Federal government. For more information, visit: victoria.ca/medicalcannabis

Draft Burnside Gorge Neighbourhood Plan to Proceed with Public Consultation
Informed by community input, the draft Burnside-Gorge Neighbourhood Plan will be shared with the community for feedback this fall. The plan includes eight big moves that aim to achieve the community’s vision for their neighbourhood over the next 25 years. Burnside Gorge neighbourhood is one of Victoria’s most diverse neighbourhoods in terms of how land is used. The neighbourhood is expected to experience significant change in the years ahead as new bus and bike lanes are built and new development projects. To view the plan and to stay informed on how to provide input visit victoria.ca/burnside

Victoria Housing Strategy Implementation - Removal of Minimum Unit Sizes

The City is moving forward with removing the minimum size required for housing units in Victoria. Currently, downtown is the only zone where there are no size restrictions. This action is one that has been recommended in Victoria’s Housing Strategy as a means of increasing
affordability by adding more housing supply to the city. Click here for more information.

UPDATE:  Southbound Douglas Street Bus Lanes

The City will continue discussions with regional partners to determine how best to manage and/or integrate high-occupancy and more sustainable transportation with dedicated bus lanes. The City will also work with a local woodworking guild and education partners to ensure that wood from the trees being removed as part of the project are appropriately used. Council also approved the 24-hour bus lane design subject to the funding agreement with BC Transit to enable it to fund construction of a southbound bus lane on Douglas Street, and to contribute to its through-life operation and maintenance costs. An update will be shared with Council at six and 12 months after implementation, with measures of bus lane performance, impacts on ridership, and any recommendations for future improvements. View the report here.

Afghanistan War Memorial Placement

The location of the Afghanistan War Memorial has been approved for the Rockland Avenue greenway. All costs associated with the installation of the memorial will be borne by the Afghanistan Memorial Committee. Over the past year, the City developed several options for placement of the memorial for the Afghanistan Memorial Committee to consider. A link to the staff report can be found here.                                               

City Governance – Six Month Review

The ongoing use of Committee of the Whole as Council’s committee system, and the use of weekly closed Council meetings if necessary at the conclusion of a Committee of the Whole meeting, were approved. At a special Council meeting on December 18, 2015, City Council approved a resolution, approving a number of governance related issues, including a six month “piloting” of consolidating the Governance and Priorities Committee and the Planning and Land use Committee into a single Committee of the Whole, to be held weekly where any issues to come before Council at Committee would be able to be considered. The report to Council is available here.

Johnson Street Bridge Replacement Quarterly Update

The quarterly update on the Johnson Street Bridge Replacement Project was approved by Council. Quarterly reports on the bridge’s progress are prepared to keep Council and the community updated on this important project. This is the third quarterly report for 2016, with the next one scheduled for December 2016. Should any emergency issues arise, City staff will provide an immediate update to Council. View the report here.

2016 Second Quarter Highlights

Council approved the City’s Second Quarter report that highlights progress towards strategic objectives and operational tasks and included the City’s second quarter budget update. A “grant dashboard” was introduced in this report, which lists all of the grants that the City receives and applies for, in addition to grant opportunities that City departments may pursue. VicPD’s Second Quarter Report was also presented and approved by Council. The reports and appendices are available here.

My Great Neighbourhood Grant Applications

All 22 eligible 2016 My Great Neighbourhood grant applications were approved for funding provided all conditions of their application are met. The grant program was introduced last year with the intention of supporting community projects that take place in the public realm and bring neighbours together to help shape their communities. Projects range from community tool sheds, signage to edible gardens and art installations. View the policy and list of grant recipients here.

Topaz Park gets green light for Park Improvement Plan

The City will be working closely with the community on a Park Improvement Plan for Topaz Park starting next year with completion anticipated for December 2017. 

The broken asphalt surface and fencing where the tennis courts previously existed will also be removed. The tennis courts have been closed since 2013 due to safety concerns caused by extreme surface degradation, with an expectation they would be replaced at some point in the future. Unfortunately, upon further analysis in 2015, it was  determined that given the large trees which have grown around the courts and root systems close to the surface, refurbishment of the tennis courts in the same location would pose significant challenges. A comprehensive review and long-term plan are required to confirm the necessary amenities and future investment needs for this well-used park. View the report here.

UPDATE: Crystal Pool Changeroom Renovation

The City will be reposting the Request for Offer (RFO) this fall for the renovation of the Crystal Pool changeroom. An RFO was posted this summer to identify a construction partner, however, no bids were received. The full Council report can be viewed here.

City Support for Community Use of Gymnasium at 950 Kings Road

To support community use of a retired public school located at 950 Kings Road, Council approved the use of $15,000 for initial repairs and $25,000 in 2016 building operating costs from the Corporate Contingency Account in 2016. Council also approved the ongoing annual operational funding in the Financial Plan of $49,000 with the specific funding source to be determined through the budget process for 2017 and beyond. The property is also to be included in the 2017-2019 permissive tax exemption bylaw. Click here for more information.

Small Scale Commercial Urban Food Production Bylaws Adopted

Residents will now be able to grow and sell food throughout the city, provided there are no negative impacts to neighbours with unreasonable levels of odour, noise or artificial lighting. This year, the City began considering bylaw changes that would allow the community to grow, harvest, package, store and sell a range of food anywhere in Victoria, while limiting any negative impacts on neighbours. This would include unprocessed food such as fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs and honey. For more information, visit: victoria.ca/growinginthecity

Victoria City Council meetings are held bi-weekly on Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m. at Victoria City Hall. Council meetings are open to the public and are webcast live and archived at: http://www.victoria.ca/EN/main/city/council-webcasting.html