March 2021

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. The items are selected highlights from the February 18, 25 and March 4, 2021 Council Meetings. To review all the topics discussed, click here to see the full agenda and webcast.

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March 4

Neighbourhood Boundaries
Council has directed staff to engage with the North Park Neighbourhood Association, Fernwood Community Association, the Downtown Residents Association, and the Downtown Victoria Business Association regarding the potential of the east side of Cook Street from Fort Street to Pandora Avenue as part of the downtown neighbourhood requesting comment from those associations. Staff will report back by the end of September.

Interim Design Options for Clover Point Park
Council has approved an interim redesign of Clover Point Park. The west side of the loop will turn into a pedestrian only area while the east side will remain open to vehicles with parking. This new configuration will allow for a total of 25 parking spaces. Eight regular stalls and six accessible spaces would be at the water’s edge with a split-rail fence separating the parking area from the new pedestrian-only zone.

Neighbourhood Association Coordinator Funding
Council has approved funding and criteria for a Neighbourhood Association Coordinator for the neighbourhood coordinator pilot project in the North Park, Downtown, Rockland, Jubilee and James Bay neighbourhoods. The purpose of the funding is to provide support for recognized neighbourhood associations without community centres to more effectively fulfill their unique roles in their geographically-defined neighbourhoods. 

940 Caledonia Avenue: Temporary Use Permit Application and Development Permit with Variances Application
A special Council meeting is scheduled on March 18, 2021 to allow for an Opportunity for Public Comment for a Temporary Use Permit for 940 Caledonia Avenue. The Coalition to End Homeless has submitted the application thatwould allow for up to 36,000 sq ft of the Royal Athletic parking lot for temporary purpose-built transitional housing.

The City will allocate $61,866 from the remaining balance of the Restart Grant Funding, to fund the costs related to the installation of water and sewer services for the temporary transitional units and the removal of the units and capping of services when the temporary use permit expires. The City will also allocate $110,000 from the 2021 Corporate Contingency Budget to contribute to the estimated 2021 operating costs, and further consider allocating $105,000 as part of the 2022 Budget process to contribute to the estimated 2022 operating and closure costs for the temporary transitional housing operated by Our Place Society.

March 11

PUBLIC HEARING: 1628 Edgeware Road – Rezoning Application and Development Permit with Variances
Following a Public Hearing, Council voted to approve a Rezoning Application and Development Permit with Variances for 1628 Edgeware Road. This application will allow for the development of a rest home.

Council Member Motion: Support for Laid-Off Hotel and Tourism Industry Workers
The City of Victoria affirms that people should not lose their livelihoods due to the pandemic, and the Mayor will write to the Ministers of Labour and Tourism expressing support for the right for laid-off workers to return to their jobs when the pandemic eases. The letter will be forwarded to all BC municipalities asking to write their support, and will be forwarded to the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities (AVICC).

Citizens’ Assembly Process – Next Steps
Council has approved recommendations for next steps in a Citizens’ Assembly process, including a request for the Province to accommodate 1/3 of the cost. The Citizens’ Assembly is a joint process with the City of Victoria and District of Saanich  to  explore the costs, benefits, and disadvantages of the amalgamation of Saanich and Victoria.

March 18

Parks Amendment Bylaw
Council has instructed the City Solicitor to bring forward bylaw amendments necessary to continue the permanent prohibition on sheltering in Centennial Square, Central Park and Cecelia Ravine Park in time for adoption prior to May 1, 2021, with the prohibition in Central Park being reviewed at a time when the Temporary Use Permit for the Tiny Homes Village at 940 Caledonia expires.

Council Member Motion: Mental Health and Addiction Services
Council will write to Island Health, the BC Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and the BC Solicitor General to request that Island Health be given “Special Constable Status” to take custody of patients apprehended under the Mental Health Act on arrival at hospital, subject to such security staff completing training equivalent to that provided to Victoria Police Department special constables, including trauma informed care training. The request also asks that Island Health assume responsibility for ensuring that patients in custody who have left the hospital unescorted are returned to custody as required, and find alternative ways to return patients home following mandated mental health and/or addiction treatment.

Council Member Motion: Streets and Traffic Bylaw
Council has directed staff to report back onimplications of vehicles violating the bylaw and provide council with suggestions to manage the issue, in a manner consistent with the Provincial Health Officer’s advice in the letter dated June 8, 2020 and in the BC Centre for Disease Control’s accompanying Response to Homeless Encampment Health Issues in the Context of COVID-19: Guidelines and Best Practices, dated June 8, 2020, including the advice that:

“Local governments should consider short-term policy adjustments to the enforcement of local bylaws regarding overnight sheltering or camping in public parks or elsewhere, as well as overnight parking bylaws that prevent people from parking in vehicles or RVs overnight on public streets”

“People experiencing homelessness have rights like all citizens, including privacy, safety, property, the right to live without threat, harassment, and fear of violence and the right to not be libeled. Public communications should be developed carefully to ensure that these rights are protected even as local governments seek to explain their objectives and approach.”  

Curbside Yard Waste Collection
Council has directed staff to bring forward amendments to the Solid Waste Bylaw to move to curbside collection and expand service to include residential yard waste in the green bin with kitchen scraps. The City will launch a comprehensive awareness campaign with users in advance of the service changes.

Council Member Motion: Support for an Arts Hub Pilot Project
Council supports Theatre SKAM’s proposal to operate an “Arts Hub” pilot project primarily focused on the performing arts, and will allocate a $40,000 one-time grant from the City’s contingency budget, and $20,000 in annual funding for a period of five years from new assessed revenue to achieve the City’s goals of establishing an Arts Hub in downtown Victoria and to help make Theatre SKAM’s proposal financially viable.

March 25

PUBLIC HEARING: 3080, 3082, 3090 Washington Avenue - Associated Official Community Plan Amendment and Development Permit Application
Following a Public Hearing, Council voted to approve a OCP Amendment and Development Permit Application for 3080, 3082 and 3090 Washington Avenue. This application will allow for construction of townhouses.

PUBLIC HEARING: 1260 Grant Street and 1289 Gladstone Avenue - Development Variance Permit
Following a Public Hearing, Council voted to approve a Development Variance Permit for 1260 Grant Street and 1289 Gladstone Avenue. This application will allow for a new addition to Victoria High School.

PUBLIC HEARING: 1114 Rockland Avenue - Development Permit with Variances
Following a Public Hearing, Council voted to approve a Development Permit with Variances for 1114 Rockland Avenue. This application will allow for construction of a multiple dwelling building.

Victoria Housing Reserve Guidelines Update
Council has directed staff to update the Victoria Housing Reserve Fund Guidelines to support the development of affordable housing. The changes set new fund eligibility rates for homes rented at Deep Subsidy, Rent Geared to Income (RGI) and Housing Income Limits (HILs), new eligible funding allocations for different levels of affordability per home, add a total funding cap for grant contributions, and streamline the application process so that grant applications that have not yet received development approvals and are able to receive preliminary grant approval by Council.

Destination Victoria and Municipal & Regional District Tax (MRDT) Renewal
Council has approved a five-year renewal for the MRDT, with new incremental MRDT from the Airbnb on-line accommodation platform (OAP) for affordable housing initiatives. Destination Greater Victoria will continue to operate as the official destination organization for the City of Victoria and eligible entity for MRDT from 2022-2026. 100 per cent of OAP MRDT will be allocated to the Victoria Housing Reserve Fund for affordable housing initiatives.

Festival Investment Grant Allocations (FIG) 2021
Council has approved the FIG allocations as recommended by staff for a total of $268,550 cash grants and in-kind City services grants of up to $100,550.

Cultural Infrastructure Grant Program
Council approved the new Cultural Infrastructure Grant with $125,000 to support Victoria-based, non-profit arts and cultural organizations in 2021. Non-profit organizations can apply for up to $25,000 for physical infrastructure upgrades, equipment and land purchase or up to $10,000 for a planning or feasibility study to help build organizational capacity in areas including business development, real-estate development, facilities planning and architecture.

AAA Cycling Network: Oaklands, Fernwood, Fort Street Central and Fort Street East
Council has approved Fort Street East as the priority AAA cycling corridor for the Jubilee neighbourhoods and designs for the Fort Street central facility, directing staff to complete detailed design and incorporate construction costs into the 2022 Financial Plan. Council has also approved the designs for the Oaklands and Fernwood Connector projects to be constructed using existing funds in coordination with other planned capital initiatives in 2021.

Electronic Participation Practices
Council has approved a policy for electronic participation practices for the duration of Ministerial Order M192 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Council members participating remotely are to be made visible by activating their camera to be seen by other council members and the public when called on to vote or comment, and all remote participants will advise the Mayor and City Clerk upon arrival and departure during the course of the meeting to enable accurate record keeping and voting results.

Council Member Motion: Continued Pedestrianization and Animation of Broad Street
Council has directed staff to continue the pedestrianization of the 1100 block of Broad Street until the end of 2021 as part of the continuation of the Build Back Victoria program, based on the request by Broad Street businesses. Staff will include the ongoing pedestrianization of Broad Street as a 2022 action item in the appropriate workplans, ensuring accessible parking, adequate loading zones, and continued time‐limited access for deliveries to service local businesses. In addition, staff will include investments in animation and infrastructure of the 1100 block of Broad Street in future capital planning and budget discussions.