The City of Victoria has asked the provincial government to postpone a council byelection until after the COVID-19 outbreak is over.
City clerk Chris Coates, who serves as chief election officer, requested the postponement on the recommendation of Dr. Richard Stanwick, the chief medical health officer for Vancouver Island.
Coates notified candidates Monday and said the matter is now before Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson, who has the power to postpone the byelection under the Local Government Act.
The vote was set to take place April 4 to fill a seat vacated by former councillor Laurel Collins, who resigned after winning the Victoria riding for the NDP in last year’s federal election.
Mayor Lisa Helps said the city expects Robinson will move quickly to postpone the vote.
“Early polling is set to begin next week,” she said. “We do hope to hear back, hopefully, within the next couple of days.”
The announcement came after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed three more deaths from COVID-19 in B.C. and 30 new cases, including seven on Vancouver Island.
Stephen Andrew, one of nine candidates vying for the seat, had called for the postponement Saturday.
“I think it’s the responsible thing to do,” he said. “My concern was that in an open and democratic society, if any segment of the electorate is afraid to go to the polls, then it cannot be a legitimate result.”
Jeremy Caradonna, another of the candidates, applauded Coates and Stanwick for acting out of concern for public health and well-being.
“I think it’s the right decision,” he said, adding that he was suspending campaigning activities and fundraising immediately.
“A pandemic was not in our campaign plans,” he said.
“We will come back from this setback and continue our fight to bring better leadership to city council.
“In the meantime, myself and my campaign will shift our efforts towards helping our community through this difficult time.”