VICTORIA -- Victoria’s cancelled byelection to fill its empty city councillor seat is set to take place this December.

On Thursday, city council voted to hold the byelection on Dec. 12, the earliest date recommended by city staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The original byelection was set to take place on April 4 to replace former city councillor Laurel Collins – who was elected as Victoria’s MP in 2019 – but was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Now, in a report submitted to council, city staff say that a byelection could safely take place on Dec. 12, despite the extra work required to execute a municipal election amid the 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.

“Instrumental to that will be adapting typical voting procedures at voting locations and expanding mail ballot voting to ensure that voters who are not comfortable attending in person have another option,” the report says.

City staff say that a budget of up to $350,000 will be required to safely hold the election, in addition to the $170,000 budget that was already assigned for the original byelection.

Staff add that a byelection could only take place on Dec. 12 at the earliest because of legislative requirements.

“A provincial election can occur within a 32-day period, whereas a local government election process takes approximately 70 days to adhere to the provincially legislated requirements under the Local Government Act,” reads the staff report.

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

Victoria city council approved of holding the byelection on Dec. 12 after reviewing the staff report at a committee of the whole meeting Thursday.