During her daily press briefings, Victoria mayor Lisa Helps announced that the City of Victoria is delaying consideration of declaring a local state of emergency until hearing from the provincial government on Wednesday.
According to mayor Helps, this morning council deliberated a motion to declare a state of emergency in Victoria. This measure would allow the city to freeze evictions for residents and businesses unable to pay rent amid COVID-19, and offer further supports to renters.
However under the mayor’s advisement, the city has delayed this motion until they hear what the provincial government has in store for renters. Premier John Horgan is expected to make an announcement on tenant supports on Wednesday, March 25th.
“Well over half of our population in Victoria are renters, so steps the province takes for renters are really important,” said Helps.
Helps also pointed out that while the city’s physical office for small business support has closed, there is now a virtual location for the Business Hub.
The Business Hub is defined by the city as the “collaborative first point of contact for business start-ups, relocations, expansions, investors, property owners, leasing agents, and others interested in creating prosperity in Victoria”.
Resources for small businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic can be accessed at this website.
On Monday, mayor Helps announced that the city would be allowing the use of Beacon Hill Park and Topaz Park as temporary shelter sites for homeless and vulnerable populations displaced due to closure of shelters in the city.
Residents at those locations will be able to access health information, meals, washrooms, hand washing stations and health professionals.
BC Housing and Island Health are also preparing indoor facilities at Royal Athletic Park as a temporary shelter space to allow vulnerable people to follow social distancing measures. Mayor Helps said a plan for this facility should be ready within the next week.
Additionally the building at 938 Mason Street will be temporarily used during the pandemic as a triaging and test site for members of homeless community.
“Right now we’ve got at least a hundred people or more camped on Pandora. They don’t have the opportunity to stay home, wash hands, and practice appropriate social distancing,” she added on Tuesday.
For the time being, hand washing stations will be installed along Pandora Avenue to encourage hygiene measures required per Dr. Bonnie Henry’s orders.
Helps reiterates that relocating homeless populations to the aforementioned parks is a temporary stopgap measure put in place until authorities are able to find enough indoor spaces to shelter everyone.
She clarified that at Beacon Hill Park, this shelter site will be located at smaller spaces out of the way of main areas. Beacon Hill, Topaz, and Royal Athletic parks were chosen due to their proximity to washrooms and because some people were already sheltering at the first two locations.
According to Helps, BC Housing has ordered 200 beds that will arrive on Vancouver Island by April 1st, by which time the agency hopes to have found appropriate indoor shelter.
To conclude her daily briefing, the mayor of the capital city encouraged everyone in Victoria to open their windows at 7 p.m. today and give a round of applause and cheer to show to show appreciation for health care workers battling COVID-19 on the front lines.
At the time of publication, there are a total of 44 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Vancouver Island and 617 in B.C.
The federal government recently announced an $82 billion assistance package for Canadians and businesses struggling financially during the global pandemic. This was followed by a $5 billion relief package announced by the B.C. provincial government.
The provincial government also announced the indefinite suspension of all in-person classes at K-12 schools in B.C., and closure of all bars and restaurants, among other measures to enforce social distancing measures.
Canada has tightened its borders and is denying entry to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada.
U.S. citizens are no longer an exception to this rule, and non-essential travel between U.S. and Canada has been temporarily banned as of March 21st. Moreover international flights have now been restricted to international airports in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.
The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.
Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.
The Province has also created the 1-888-COVID-19 line to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.
As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 420,739.
Over 18,800 people have died from the illness and 108,323 have made a full recovery.