Victoria mayor confirms municipal byelection to be held in fall 2020

Victoria mayor confirms municipal byelection to be held in fall 2020
Nicholas Pescod/CHEK News
The City of Victoria is expected to hold a byelection sometime this fall.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps has confirmed the city’s byelection will be held sometime this fall.

City staff will be bringing a report to Victoria’s council to finalize details in September.

On March 18, to help limit the spread of COVID-19, Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, cancelled Victoria’s April 4 byelection. Rossland and Lytton in B.C. were also planning to hold byelections at the time and Kamloops was planning an assent vote.

The vote for one councillor in Victoria had been scheduled for April after the position became vacant when Laurel Collins resigned from Victoria City Council in November 2019. 

Collins was elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for Victoria in October 2019. 

The city said Victoria’s cancellation was requested by the Chief Medical Health Officer for Island Health and the City of Victoria to help ensure residents are not required to gather in polling stations and to free up the city’s resources to focus on dealing with the impact of COVID-19.

According to the city, any decisions to reschedule the byelection will be made by the City in conjunction with public health officials and Elections BC.

Meanwhile, Coun. Jeremy Loveday tweeted on Wednesday that he supports calling a byelection for the City of Victoria as soon as possible.

“More democracy is better,” he wrote. “I look forward to hearing from the province as to when that will happen.”

And candidate Stephen Andrew has launched an online petition to have the vote rescheduled “safely and without delay.” The petition has 37 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.

On Wednesday, the province said it is working on providing guidance to local governments to “give people in several B.C. communities the opportunity to safely participate in local government byelections and assent votes during the COVID-19 restart and recovery period.”

The government said while local governments make their own decisions about when and how to hold a vote, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, working in consultation with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer, Elections BC, WorkSafeBC, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Local Government Management Association, has developed guidance materials to help local governments support safe, physically distanced voting.

This includes

  • offering enhanced mail-ballot voting options;
  • offering additional advanced voting opportunities;
  • selecting and setting up a voting place for physically distant, in-person voting;
  • reducing high-touch interactions for voter registration, solemn declarations and signing voting books; and
  • managing curbside voting or special voting opportunities to improve access to voting.

Local governments are developing plans for these byelections and assent votes in consultation with public health officials and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

There are now 14 B.C. communities needing to hold byelections or assent votes to fill vacancies on their councils and boards.



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