Our Place closes Drop In centre today, leaving hundreds of vulnerable people with reduced services and no where to go.
NB At the end of the post is general information we’ve been providing to residents by email. Note the useful links for up to date information from the provincial and federal governments.
Today, many businesses voluntarily closed to help keep the community safe, temporarily laying off hundreds of workers. Provincial Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry declared a Provincial Health Emergency. She also ordered that all bars and nightclubs be closed. The declaration of a provincial health emergency gives her the ability to ask police to enforce these and other orders. Today Our Place closed its doors. And CBC has just announced that Canada and the US are preparing to close borders to non-essential travel. We’re moving further from business as usual every day.
In response, I’ve been working hard with staff and Council today to respond and do our part to support the community and help us all get through these extraordinary times.
This morning I convened a phone call with business owners, and representatives to find out what business needs immediately. We heard lots of good idea and staff in our Business Hub are working to provide much-needed information to businesses right away at the same as we plan for short-term actions we can take over the coming weeks and months. The Business Hub website will soon be a central clearing house for all relevant COVID-19 business information. Restaurant owners also had some creative ideas about how they might be able to help out and also keep their kitchens running in a scaled back way. We’ll meet again by phone Thursday afternoon.
This afternoon I convened a phone call with BC Housing, Island Health, the Coalition to End Homelessness and City staff to help get a plan in place for those in the community who don’t have homes and therefore can’t “stay at home”, as the Prime Minister urges. They also cannot quarantine or self-isolate. And many of them have underlying health conditions.
We must rise to this challenge and act quickly. This is why staff are working to bring a report to Council Thursday to take decisive action with our partners at Island Health, BC Housing and the Coalition to create pods of service and shelter across the city and to free up spaces for quarantine and self-isolation for those who will certainly need it. The worst is before us yet.
Councillors have been working hard to prepare for Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting writing motions with proposed actions for the City to take as well as advocacy motions for the federal and provincial governments. They have also been working hard to share information with the public and keep people informed and engaged. I’d like to thank Council for their leadership at this time.
If there’s one thing that I’ve been reminded of today it’s that relationships are everything. It’s the pre-existing relationships we’ve built that we are now relying on, working together – City, business, health, social services, provincial and federal ministers – to address the crisis we find ourselves in. It’s only this continued spirit of working together – as things get worse before they get better – that will see us through this.
Information from City of Victoria
The City of Victoria is actively monitoring information provided by Federal and Provincial authorities with regards to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is continually reassessing the health risk for Canada as new information becomes available and residents are encouraged to stay up-to-date by regularly visiting these Federal and Provincial links:
What the City of Victoria is Doing:
The City of Victoria has closed the Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre and a number of its facilities to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the community. This follows the Provincial public health direction to cancel gatherings of 50 people or more.
Recreation Programs, Community and Seniors Centres
City of Victoria recreation programs and services offered at the Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre and Royal Athletic Park are closed until further notice. Refunds will be issued for anyone affected by programs cancelled during the closure.
The City is advising City-owned community and seniors centres, which are run by independent non-profit societies, to close. People registered for programs at community and seniors centres should contact those centres for more information.
Victoria City Hall
Victoria City Hall will be open by appointment only starting Tuesday, March 17 for accessing City services. We encourage the public to use MyCity Onlinefor many online payment and services. The public can call 250-385-5711 for general information. To make appointments with respect to development applications or building permits, please call the Development Service Centre at 250-361-0382. Visit the City’s websitefor full details.
Council and Committee Meetings
Council’s Committee of the Whole on Thursday, March 19 will proceed. The public can watch the live webcast, beginning at 9 a.m., to follow the proceedings. Information regarding upcoming Council meetings and public hearings will be available soon.
All Advisory Committee, Board and Task Force meetings and any other meetings scheduled to be held at City Hall have been cancelled, until further notice.
2020 Municipal By-Election
The Chief Medical Health Officer for Island Health has recommended that the April 4 by-election be postponed until the coronavirus pandemic is declared over. The City’s Chief Electoral Officer has requested an order from the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to authorize the postponement under the Local Government Act.
Following the advice from BC’s Public Health Officer for social distancing and avoiding large groups, the City has decided to postpone all public engagement events until further notice. This includes any scheduled open houses, workshops, meet-ups, and the Mayor’s Community Drop-In. Check out the City’s engagement portal at engage.victoria.cafor the latest information.
Check Status Updates
For updates on the City’s response to COVID-19 and the status of programs and services, visit Victoria.ca. Residents are encouraged to follow @CityofVictoria on Twitter to stay informed.
Cruise ship industry:
Mayor and Council proactively sent a letter to Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau requesting that the Government of Canada follow the advice of the Provincial Health Officer and suspend authorization of international cruise ships to Victoria until risks associated with COVID-19 have subsided. The Federal Government announced on March 13, that boats and cruise ships carrying more than 500 people will be banned from docking at Canadian ports until July 1, 2020.
For more information and updates, please see the below links:
Council does not have any decision making authority in this regard. The mayor has been in touch with both Federal and Provincial authorities to put residents’ concerns on their radar. The Clipper Ferry has ceased operations. The Coho is currently running and is coordinating with Federal and Provincial authorities to ensure the health and safety of all passengers with respect to COVID-19. Please visit their websites for more information and updates:
Clipper Vacations: https://www.clippervacations.com/
Black Ball Ferry Line (Coho): https://www.cohoferry.com/
Citizens of Canada are asked to avoid all international travel. For more information and updates on travel please visit the Federal link below:
At this time, Provincial authorities have directed no mass gatherings over 50 people. For more information and updates on Provincial recommendations please visit the below link:
Residents are also reminded and encouraged to take the following steps to stay healthy and prevent the spread of infections by:
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
- avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands;
- avoid close contact with people who are sick;
- cough or sneeze into your sleeve and not your hands; and
- stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to othersMore information on prevention can be found here:
Victoria Conference Centre:
The Victoria Conference Centre is currently closed which is the standard protocol when there are no bookings in the facility.