Victoria suspends city programs, asks province to cancel byelection amid COVID-19 outbreak
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps announces the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday, March 16, 2020. (CTV News)
VICTORIA -- The City of Victoria is suspending community centre programs and asking the province to cancel the city's upcoming council byelection in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Lisa helps announced the move Monday saying the city has "received strong advice" from health officials advising against holding the municipal vote on April 4.
"We have sought an order from the province, which has the authority to cancel the byelection," Helps said. "We should receive that order hopefully soon."
The city is also closing Crystal Pool and cancelling all city-run programs at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre effective immediately.
All other city-owned community centres and seniors centres in Victoria, including daycares, are run by community and not-for-profit societies. The city has asked those societies to cease operations to fight the spread of COVID-19.
City hall will close Tuesday and only accept visitors by appointment.
The city's Thursday committee of the whole meeting will go ahead as planned, Helps said.
"The government must continue to sit," the mayor said. "There are some important motions on council's agenda Thursday, including what the city can do – pulling out all stops – to support businesses in these challenging times."
The byelection was triggered by the Nov. 4 resignation of former councillor Laurel Collins, who stepped down from her seat after she was elected as an NDP MP for Victoria in October.