Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps addressed the media to give an update on what the city is doing to help those struggling due to the global pandemic.
Helps say finding shelter for the homeless and easing renter worries are her top priorities.
Helping the Homeless
The City of Victoria is looking into using underused facilities to provide shelter for the homeless, as concerns grow about how the virus could spread on among the population.
“We know the congregation on pandora is not the social distancing Dr. Bonnie Henry has ordered,” agreed Helps.
The mayor says because the Province has declared a state of emergency, the Province has the powers to commandeer any facility that they choose for whatever purpose. She says this is what will allow the government to find shelter for those who need it.
She said the city is working hard to create a plan to help the homeless in a timely manner.
“We would love to have something to share with all of you, and to have something in place by the end of tomorrow. Those are Herculean measures.”
For renters, she explained how multiple advocacy motions have passed to deal with the renters who are facing evictions, but that Victoria can only do so much, and needs help from larger governments.
“The Province has yet to take action and I know they are working hard on this so this is adding our voice to some of the things we know they’re working on, for our most vulnerable. 60 per cent of our community in Victoria right now, are renters.”
Helps said Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson is currently working on a plan to protect renters, but nothing is in place quite yet.
“It is fully within the province purview to take action in respect to renters, and I know she is working very hard on this issue as we speak.”
Businesses in Victoria
“We know the business community in Victoria is struggling,” said Helps.
The mayor explained how city staff are looking at many different options to help businesses including removing late penalties for utility payments and tax return deferrals.
In terms of council, “We will continue in our committee of the whole meetings but we are cancelling the public hearing meetings until further notice,” said Helps.
She says council will continue to meet online, once the bylaw is passed to do so.