March 19, 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 March19, 2020 Council Meeting. To review all the topics discussed, click here to see the full agenda and webcast.
Please note,Council meetings webcast live and archived. Based on recommendations by public health officials, as of March 19:
- Council has suspended the holding of public hearings in accordance with the Class Order on COVID-19 from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer until further notice. (NOTE: The public hearing for 1301 Hillside has been cancelled.)
- Council has also suspended the question period sections of Council meeting agendas for in-person participation.
- Requests to address Council will be limited to six delegations through either telephone participation, where possible, and the reading out of submissions and/or broadcasting of recorded submissions, if necessary.
Council will suspend the holding of Public Hearings in accordance with the Class Order on COVID-19 from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer until further notice, as well as the Question Period section of Council meeting agendas for in person participation.
Adjustments to the Request to Address Council process include limiting speakers up to six delegations at a Council meeting through either telephone participation where possible, or the reading out of written submissions and/or the broadcasting of recorded submissions, if necessary.
These temporary measures will be reviewed no later than April 16, 2020.
Council Member Motion - COVID-19 City Response to Support Small Business, Arts and Culture and the Visitor Economy
Council has directed staffto examine all of the City’s fiscal, legislative and legal powers to support small businesses and jobs, the non-profit sector, arts and culture and the visitor economy in order sustain the local economy during the pandemic and recover stronger and more resilient than before, and to report back to Council on an urgent basis.
Arising from this motion, Council has directed staff to look at the operational and capital plan for 2020 to see what will not be accomplished in this year due to COVID-19 and bring recommendations to Council as to what would come out of the budget accordingly.
Council Member Motion – Reducing Economic Hardship Arising from COVID-19
Council has directedstaff to develop an Action Plan without delay identifying measures within municipal jurisdiction to reduce economic hardship on individuals and organizations impacted by COVID-19, including consideration of the following measures:
- Repurposing underutilized facilities for emergency shelter and healthcare for the unhoused, to allow for social distancing, proper care, harm reduction, and recovery
- Emergency regulations to restrict evictions of tenants who have suffered a loss of earnings due to quarantine, self-isolation, layoff or declining economic activity
- Temporary deferral of fees, taxes and other payments owing to the city from those suffering hardship
- Advocate to the Governments of British Columbia and Canada for immediate action along the following lines:
- Emergency housing and healthcare for the unhoused through the retrofitting of underutilized facilities to allow for social distancing, proper care, harm reduction and recovery.
- Income support through Employment Insurance, statutory Paid Sick Leave provisions and / or other programs to replace earnings that have been lost as a result of COVID-19, with immediate and retroactive effect, including eligibility for precariously employed workers in the service sector and “gig economy”, self-employed workers and small business operators.
- A temporary moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and payment of debt and utility fees.
- Support for Indigenous communities that are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to substandard health, housing, water and social service systems.
- Temporary deferral of payroll deduction remittances (i.e. EI, CPP, Income Tax) and income tax instalment payments where necessary to reduce pressure on business cash reserves and maintain payment to employees and suppliers.
- Request that the Mayor write, on behalf of Council, to the Premier of British Columbia and the Prime Minister of Canada, requesting immediate action along the lines outlined above, and indicating the City of Victoria’s willingness to cooperate with those orders of government to ensure an integrated and effective response to COVID-19, including reducing economic hardship on individuals and organizations and safeguarding the economic base of the community.
- Direct staff to prepare bylaw amendments to allow for the temporary waiver of financial penalties for non-payment of municipal utilities fees and taxes during provincially declared emergencies.
- Request that the Province of British Columbia grant local governments the discretion to postpone payment of property taxes with no financial penalty in 2020 for those that meet a provincially determined threshold.
- Request that staff consider initiating emergency childcare services for essential services workers during the COVID19 public health emergency, either as a city-operated service or in partnership with external childcare providers.
- Request that the University of Victoria reconsider the displacement of students current living in student housing who have no alternate housing options.
- Council request that landlords not increase rents at this time of crisis and defer rents for those in need.