VICTORIA -- Victoria city staff say a byelection to fill the municipality’s vacant city councillor seat could take place as early as this December.

In a report submitted to council, city staff say that a byelection could feasibly take place on Dec. 12, even with the extra time that is required to plan and execute a municipal election amid a pandemic.

“With the appropriate safety precautions, staffing, legislative changes and budget, it is possible to address public health concerns related to voting,” reads the staff report submitted to council Monday.

Staff say that new in-person voting protocols will have to be established, more voting polls will need to be available and an expanded mail-in ballot system will need to be in place for the byelection.

City staff add that the process will take considerably longer than a provincial election due to provincially legislated requirements for municipal byelections.

“The city cannot deviate from those prescribed timelines, therefore the timing for a byelection is significantly longer,” say staff.

Municipal staff say that a provincial election can take place within a 32-day period, while a municipal election must take approximately 70 days.

That being said, city staff say a byelection could be held on Dec. 12 should city council agree on that direction when they review the report at committee of the whole meeting Thursday.

The byelection would require a budget of up to $350,000 coming from the city’s financially stability reserve, on top of the $170,000 budget that had already been set aside for the original byelection, scheduled for April 4, before it was cancelled due to COVID-19.

“There was concern that there may have been some barriers to a byelection, including availability of planned and additional staff and voting locations, ability to adapt voting systems and practices that will be effective on general voting day, budget, and impact on other city projects,” reads the staff report.

“In taking the time to review these issues, staff are able to conclude that a byelection on December 12, 2020 can be appropriately undertaken.”

Victoria city council will review the report Thursday. Staff are recommending that council ratify a byelection motion and begin the planning process on the same day if the goal is to have a byelection take place this year.