VICTORIA -- The City of Victoria is devoting more resources to growing vegetables amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, council passed a motion to temporarily move additional city parks staff to some of Victoria’s urban food programs.

The city plans to plant 50,000 to 75,000 new food plants at the Beacon Hill Park Nursery, which will later be distributed to those who need it most through local charitable organizations.

The city says that no additional operational costs will be incurred by ramping up the program, as it involves redirecting staff and not hiring new workers.

“By simply scaling up our already existing Growing in the City program, we can grow food plants and work with partners such as Urban Food Table on distribution,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps in a statement Thursday.

Meanwhile, a decision on whether to make parking free in downtown Victoria has been delayed, likely for at least a week.

Last week, councillors Charlayne Thornton-Joe and Marianne Alto tabled a motion proposing that fees be waived at all city parkades.

The motion was discussed at a committee of the whole meeting Thursday, garnering both support and opposition for the proposal.

According to estimates by city staff, parkades are currently generating $100,000 to $150,000 in revenue for the municipality per month during the COVID-19 pandemic. On a usual month, parkades generate roughly $500,000.

Coun. Geoff Young suggested that pay parking should remain at city facilities so that the revenue could be put back into the community.

Meanwhile, Thornton-Joe suggested that making parking free would benefit workers who are still using the parkade, as they may be under stress due to reduced incomes or concerned about having to work out in the community while many are being told to self-isolate.

City council ultimately decided to delay making a final decision on the motion until city staff could review alternate parking options, like potentially settling on a compromise and making some street parking free.