June 4, 2020

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 June 4, 2020 Council Meetings. To review all the topics discussed, click here to see the full agenda and webcast.

We welcome anyone who would like to receive Council Highlights to email us at engage@victoria.ca. To visit the City Council Meeting Dashboard, click here.

Open Air Recovery – Support for Restaurants and Cafes in Public Spaces
The City is implementing a number of new Build Back Victoria initiatives tosupport local businesses and the community to reopen and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiatives will give restaurants and businesses the opportunity to expand their patios, and services on sidewalks, streets and neighbourhood squares and plazas. Parks will also be opened up for approved business use, such as outdoor yoga and fitness classes. Applications opened on Monday, June 8.

Government Street will be transformed into a pedestrian priority zone from Humboldt Street to Yates Street. This pilot closure will end as of October 31.

In addition to the temporary flex space for businesses, the City has created 14 mobile vending zones throughout neighbourhoods to allow food trucks and other mobile businesses to operate. Businesses can also apply for special customer pickup and delivery zones in front of or near their locations.

Those businesses already serving alcohol in their day-to-day operations were given additional freedom by Council to open patios with alcohol service. The Province remains responsible for certain aspects of enforcement in regard to food and liquor inspections.

Supporting the Recovery of the Arts and Culture Sector:
Council has directed staff to shift funding allocated for the Cultural Infrastructure and Cultural Space Roadmap towards a one-time only $125,000 Everyday Creativity Grant program during the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff will report back on the Everyday Creativity Grant program criteria and process by end of June 2020. Funding for the cultural spaces grant program and art spaces roadmap will be allocated as part of the 2021 budget.

Community Recovery Grants Program
Council allocated an additional $100,000 to the current round of grant applications, as well as a $250,000 second round of Strategic Plan Grants to encourage the community to bring forward project proposals for how the community can continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Council will review the proposals that have a specific focus on recovery and the deadline for submissions is July 15, 2020. An additional $100,000 was also added to the My Great Neighbourhood COVID-19 grant stream that’s focused on community recovery and resiliency.

The increase in funding will be repurposed through unspent funds for 2020, including: Canada Day special duty policing; first 3 officers for special events; coordinated implementation of the Pandora task force; Protocol; and Reconciliation Dialogues. Any remaining amount will be funded by the 2020 contingency budget.

COVID Recovery Housing Security
Council endorsed the following Victoria Housing Strategy priorities in 2020 to improve housing security as part of COVID-19 recovery:

  1. Advance and support the rapid supply of affordable and supportive housing in neighbourhoods throughout the City, with government partners and non-profit housing providers
  2. Bring forward an expanded Rental Property Standards of Maintenance Bylaw for consideration
  3. Develop a Rental Property Licensing Bylaw to prevent renovictions and demovictions
  4. Explore the creation of a non-profit administered rent bank on a pilot basis

Capital Projects
Council has directed staff to share a number of planned City capital projects with the Federal Ministry of Infrastructure and Communities to find out which ones are most likely to be considered for infrastructure grant funding to support recovery from COVID-19. Those projects include the skate and bike park at Topaz Park, and Heron and Raynor Point bridges. Staff will report back to Council with a prioritized list to submit as part of the federal government’s proposal call based on the Ministry’s feedback.