Victoria to decide Wednesday whether to declare state of emergency
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says that the city will decide on whether or not to declare a local state of emergency Wednesday: (CTV News)
VICTORIA -- Victoria's mayor says the city will wait until Wednesday to decide whether or not to declare a state of emergency due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Lisa Helps made the statement Tuesday while announcing new measures the city is taking to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the region.
Helps said the city planned to make a decision on a state of emergency declaration Tuesday, but decided to wait until the B.C. government announces what it will do to help renters in the province on Wednesday.
"Well over half of our population in Victoria are renters,” Helps told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “[We are working to] find ways to prevent eviction for both residential and commercial tenants in the midst of this crisis."
In the meantime, Helps said the city has online resources to help local businesses and workers navigate the pandemic.
The Victoria Chamber of Commerce has set up an online job board to help connect businesses with local workers who are newly unemployed.
The city’s online COVID-19 support resources can be found here.
Helps said a group of more than 70 technology and marketing professionals have also volunteered to help local businesses, especially retail stores, transition to an online marketplace. The website, YYJ Locals for Locals, can be found here.
Victoria’s mayor also provided further details into the creation of three new outdoor homeless shelters at Beacon Hill Park, Topaz Park and Royal Athletic Park.
Helps said that the temporary outdoor shelters are located away from frequently used areas of the parks, and that the shelter locations were chosen due to their proximity to washroom facilities.
The city is continuing to work with BC Housing on finding indoor shelter spaces for homeless Victorians, who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
Helps said BC Housing is sending 200 beds to Victoria, which are expected arrive on April 1. Victoria business Club Kwench is storing the beds until BC Housing determines where an indoor shelter can be created.
The three outdoor homeless shelters will be operated by the city’s emergency social services team. Helps says that the city has protocols in place to manage the shelters, as they would if there were an earthquake or large fire.
Victoria’s mayor ended her COVID-19 news conference by inviting Vancouver Islanders to join together in opening their windows at 7 p.m. to cheer on and celebrate the country’s healthcare workers. Cities across the world have already begun these daily displays of gratitude, including Vancouver.
“In these challenging times, the city is here for you, and I am here for you,” said Helps.