May 14, 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 May 7 and 14 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.

Please note: Council meetings are 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.
  • 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.

May 14

COUNCIL MEMBER MOTIONS – COVID RECOVERY

Victoria 3.0 – Recovery, Reinvention, Resilience 2020-2041
Council adopted the draft economic action plan Victoria 3.0 – Recovery Reinvention Resilience – 2020-2041. The 2021 actions in the plan have been forwarded to staff for consideration as part of the 2021 budget process.

Open Air Recovery – Support for Restaurants and Cafes in Public Spaces
Staff will report back to Council with options for flexible, innovative, and expedited permitting of patios in public spaces for restaurants and other establishments once public health restrictions have been loosened in order to promote economic recovery, taking into consideration accessibility impacts, needs for appropriate physical distancing, ample room for pedestrians in high-traffic areas and livability for residents.

Supporting the Recovery of the Arts and Culture Sector
Previously approved 2020 Create Victoria action items related to the creation of a Cultural Infrastructure Grant fund, Cultural Spaces Roadmap, and the new staff position for implementing Create Victoria will move forward. Staff will report back with options for a special round of grants to:

  1. Encourage events with alternative formats that build community and social connection while allowing for physical distancing;
    1. Once restrictions are lifted, events to bring people back downtown, support arts and culture, and inject economic vibrancy back into the core and village centres.

The City will provide a $5000 grant to the Pro Art Alliance of Greater Victoria for the creation of a City of Victoria sponsored award at the annual Pro Art Regional Arts Awards, to be aligned with the objectives of Create Victoria, to be funded from the 2020 contingency budget. Staff will also report back on equity and inclusion at the same time as the regular report back on Create Victoria.

Increasing Physical Distancing for Pedestrians in Public Space
Council directed staff to keep the physical distancing measures in place in village centres and other locations and report back to Council with further opportunities to allocate additional spaces for people to walk and roll safely in village centres and downtown in order to proactively prepare for increased pedestrian traffic as people begin to leave their homes.

 

Council also directed staff to pedestrianize Beacon Hill Park while opening parking lots at Heywood Rd, Circle Drive, and Nursery Rd. and the roads that serve as their closest access points for the duration of summer. The City will seek input from accessibility organizations including the Accessibility Working Group, if that body is available, and report back with that advice and all other input received so Council can consider whether to further extend the pedestrianized approach to the park. 

 

Extending Reduced Parking Fee Policy
The current parking fee policy, as approved April 9, 2020, will be extended through to June 15, 2020 with the option to extend further. Staff will report back to Council on the impacts of this policy at the June 11, 2020 meeting of Committee of the Whole.               

Commercial Loading Zones to Free Time Limited Zones
Some Commercial Loading Zones in the City will be changed to be free time limited zones after 4 p.m. and on Sundays while leaving some spots for three minute passenger zones or for use of seating areas for businesses if it can be achieved in a safe and accessible manner.

Assistance with Recovery Phase for Business
That Council request that staff create temporary bylaw amendments that would:

 

  • Allow businesses to display and sell their merchandise in front of their business
  • Allow tables and chairs outside restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries
  • Allow businesses to use areas of public spaces or squares adjacent to a business
  • Consider how larger City spaces could be shared by businesses

Community Recovery Grants Program
Council has directed staff to, on an urgent basis, design and report back with options for an innovative, one time, time limited grant program that would allocate funds to organizations and/or individuals to support specific, measurable actions to remedy a city-based business, organization, neighbourhood, or other entity directly affected by COVID-19. Staff will also identify options for funding such a program and apply and report on a high level equity analysis and how those actions reflect the City's equity mandate.

  • Authorize up to $500,000 from the 2020 contingency toward the Strategic Plan Grant Program
  • Direct staff to initiate without delay a second intake for the Strategic Plan Grant Program for 2020, incorporating a new criterion in the evaluation of applications based on the degree to which applicants have experienced economic hardship arising from COVID-19

Housing Security
City staff will explore opportunities to reprioritize, expedite, or amend actions within the Victoria Housing Strategy to address certain growing housing precarity within Victoria. Via Council liaisons, staff will solicit written recommendations from existing City Task Forces and Committees regarding potential actions to support housing security.

Food Security for Low Income Tenants
Thecity will work with local housing providers of subsidized, low income, and supportive housing to explore avenues and partnerships to allow residents to participate in City of Victoria food security and food growing programs where they live.

Recovery Town Hall
The City will hold a digital townhall in late May or early June to share the City’s proposed recovery initiatives with the public and answer questions about proposed plans and initiatives.

Capital Projects
Staff will prepare a list of capital projects ready to go but not started or committed, ranging in cost from Crystal Pool through a second artificial turf field at Topaz, to bridges on the David Foster pathway.

Safe and Supervised Indoor Sheltering
The City will request that the Province establish safe indoor sheltering locationsthroughout the region with supports and withsufficient capacity to meet the need of all those who are unhousedas a pathway to safe, adequate, secure, permanent housing.

Hospitality Industry
Council will advocate for federal and provincial programs that assist restaurants in designing physical layouts, cleaning, ventilation, and serving processes that would allow them to operate safely; and the City will respond quickly to requests by the hospitality industry to changes in zoning, occupancy, etc. to allow for physical distancing.

Pathway to Recovery for a Caring, Low Carbon Community
Council endorsed in principle the Moving Forward, Not Backward policy statement, a regional agenda for caring, low-carbon communities after COVID-19. The report was referred to the August 6, 2020 Committee of the Whole meeting to inform decisions relating to the 2020 and 2021 Financial Plans.

Read the policy statement

Food Security during COVID-19 Recovery
The City will continue to support the shift toward more resilient food systems by:

  • Authorizing a grant to provide insurance to allow the Community Food Support Network hamper program to continue to operate from May 18, 2020 to August 31, 2020
  • Endorsing the continuation of the Get Growing Victoria program during the COVID-19 recovery phase, including the distribution of food plants, gardening materials and educational resources for the winter 2020-2021 growing season

Sustainable Transportation
Council endorsed the following actions for sustainable transportation during COVID-19 recovery:

  1. Request that the Mayor write, on behalf of Council, to the Victoria Regional Transit Commission, indicating the City of Victoria’s support for the following priorities for public transit during COVID-19 recovery:
    1. Retain the current fare-free public transit program during the pandemic, to ensure driver safety, economic relief for passengers and low-carbon transport.
    2. Deploy the existing BC Transit fleet with maximum service hours for bus and HandyDart to substantially improve service and equity, alongside fast-tracking the purchase of new buses and expansion of fleet maintenance facilities.
    3. Implement transit priority including bus lanes on existing roads, to increase transit capacity, speed and reliability at peak periods.
    4. Request that the Mayor write, on behalf of Council, to the Federal and Provincial Ministers of Transportation, indicating the City of Victoria’s support for the following priorities for public transit during COVID-19 recovery:
      1. Job-creation investment in a third fleet maintenance facility for the Victoria Regional Transit System, to allow for major service expansion and rapid transit.
      2. Job-creation investment in the electrification and expansion of local, regional and national inter-city bus and rail networks, under public ownership, operation and control, including bus priority lanes, LRT and other modes.

 

Continuation of Youth Buss Pass Program
Council reaffirmed support for the Youth Bus Pass Program and directed staff to engage BC Transit on funding options for continuation of the program from September 2020 to August 2021.

Council also reaffirmed its commitment to the 2019 Strategic Plan action to explore extending the fare-free transit program to include low-income people and senior citizens.