Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Victoria council puts together action plan to deal with emergency

To deal with COVID-19 fallout the City of Victoria is considering wide-ranging moves to assist the homeless, renters, businesses and taxpayers.
01312020 lisa helps.jpg
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps

To deal with COVID-19 fallout the City of Victoria is considering wide-ranging moves to assist the homeless, renters, businesses and taxpayers.

“We are trying to work as quickly as possible to put some measures in place to take some of the worry and fear from people,” Mayor Lisa Helps told reporters Thursday.

“We know businesses are particularly vulnerable, renters are particularly vulnerable, the people congregating on Pandora [Avenue outside Our Place soup kitchen and shelter] are vulnerable.”

City officials have been told to begin work immediately on an action plan to deal with the COVID-19 emergency including:

• Repurposing under-used facilities or buildings for emergency shelters and assistance for the homeless to allow them to receive help while maintaining proper social distancing;

• Emergency regulations to restrict evictions of tenants who have suffered financial loss because they had to self-isolate, go into quarantine or were laid off or suffered a loss of business or earnings;

• Temporary deferrals of all taxes, fees and other payments owed to the city for those suffering COVID-19 hardships and waiving.

Municipal officials have also been told to prepare bylaw amendments to allow for the temporary waivers of penalties for late payments of utility fees and taxes while the provincial emergency continues.

The city real estate section has been told to look at options to help on a case-by-case basis businesses that operate out of city-owned properties.

Helps said the moves will take time to devise and enact, and some will require action from federal and provincial governments. But she praised the commitment and moves already undertaken by federal and provincial political leaders.

“They have committed over and over again to do everything they can to help Canadians get through this crisis,” she said.

“This is a very worrying time for people,” said Helps. “It’s worrying for people who have to go to work, it’s worrying for those who can’t go to work.

“It’s going to take time to get through these difficult times and the only way we are going to be able to do it is by working together. I know it’s really, really hard and I wish we could offer more comfort.”

rwatts@timescolonist.com