(Mayor Lisa Helps/Facebook)

The City of Victoria has announced $50,000 in funding to organizations that are providing mobile outreach services to unsheltered populations in the city.

The motion was approved by council during Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, and the funding will come from previously approved COVID-19 response funds allocated by the municipality.

According to Mayor Helps, several outreach organizations working to support homeless populations during this crisis have stated that they do not have enough workers but will submit a plan to acquire more workers to city staff, after which the funding will be released.

The organizations that are slated to receive funding include AVI, SOLID, Peers Victoria, and the Indigenous Harm Reduction Team.

Indoor housing

Council also approved a motion to ask the provincial government to requisition indoor shelter spaces for all homeless people in the City of Victoria.

A letter, written by Mayor Helps, has been delivered to the provincial government asking them to exercise their emergency powers to find indoor accommodations.

In the event that this request is denied by the province, the city seeks the authority to declare a local state of emergency and thereby use emergency powers to requisition hotel and motel rooms for people who are unsheltered in the city.

These units would then be provided to homeless people who are do not display symptoms of COVID-19 but are at risk of contracting and/or transmitting the virus.

At the moment, Topaz Park is the only outdoor sheltering site available to homeless and vulnerable people who have not been housed at one of the 115 motel or hotel units thus far acquired by the city.

According to Helps, the fire department has confirmed that Topaz Park is now at capacity.

Unsheltered populations have also been setting up camp at Beacon Hill Park. Homeless people will not be asked to remove their tents during this pandemic.

Physical distancing at parks

The city has announced that the parking area off Foul Bay Road and Crescent Road that serves Gonzales Beach Park will be reserved for emergency and service vehicles only starting tomorrow, April 17th.

Moreover, physical distancing measures announced for Beacon Hill Park earlier this month will remain in place every weekend moving forward during this pandemic.

New signage will be installed at narrow path areas to remind residents to maintain physical distances.

“With over 130 parks and open spaces in the City of Victoria, there is no shortage of greenspace in our own neighbourhoods for fresh air and exercise,” said Mayor Lisa Helps in a statement.

City staff have been deployed to parks to engage with residents about recreation facility closures and remind everyone about physical distancing.

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

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 2,173,168.

Over 144,900 people have died from the illness and 546,296 have made a full recovery.

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