Amalgamation

The City of Victoria has officially decided on a date to hold the byelection to fill a vacant council seat, following a vote on Thursday.

After months of postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the municipal byelection will be held on December 12.

The seat will have been vacant for over a year by the time it is filled. It was left vacant when then-councillor Laurel Collins was elected as a member of parliament in the 2019 federal election.

Collins resigned from her spot on Victoria Council as she assumed the role of MP for Victoria, prompting a byelection with an originally planned date of March 14.

However, voting was delayed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Council recently requested a report from city staff on options for holding the byelection safely.

In their report, staff say that they are able to implement measures to address public health concerns related to voting.

“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.

“Safety and operational plans will provide safeguards for in-person voting for electors and election workers.”

Staff went on to say in their report that additional workers would need to be hired to help administer voting systems and practices.

In debate on the motion, city clerk Chris Coates added that it was not yet possible to estimate the full cost of the byelection due to the evolving nature of voting during the pandemic.

Initial estimates pegged the cost of the by-election at $170,000, $90,000 of which had already been spent before the cancellation of the vote in March.

Staff say that an additional $350,000 could be needed to properly fund the by-election in December.

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