Another building has been purchased by BC Housing to provide temporary shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Greater Victoria. The province announced yesterday that 70 indoor spaces will be available after renovations to 225 Russell St. in Victoria.
“In order to hit our target of bringing everyone in tents in parks in Victoria inside by the end of April, this building is a necessary part of the plan,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, adding the plan is to renovate the site for use as long-term supportive housing.
Our Place Society will operate the shelter and help residents access support services as needed.
Make sure to register for our Business Restart Series with Shayne Ramsay, CEO BC Housing on May 11. Details below!
Businesses in the City of Langford will have more confidence about expanding operations after council voted to extend permits for up to three years.
Restaurants and retail businesses had been asking for certainty in order to invest in exterior capital improvements to support outdoor dining and expanded business capacity. Langford's bylaw, previously requiring annual renewal, was amended to allow operations on sidewalks, boulevards and other common areas for up to three years under a single permit.
“Council has recognized that the implications of the pandemic are still a major challenge for many local businesses,” Langford Mayor Stew Young says. “Through this bylaw amendment, we have cut the red tape to make the process of expanding a patio or storefront this spring simple and efficient, while ensuring the safety of customers and staff.”
The Chamber continues working with all municipalities in Greater Victoria to enable innovative solutions to restaurants and all businesses affected by the pandemic.
The District of Saanich is hoping to lead the way for Greater Victoria municipalities after council voted unanimously to reduce the speed limit on side streets to 30 km/h. Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes has reached out to other municipalities that had agreed to a previous plan to reduce speeds to 40 km/h. The hope is they will agree to a further reduction and can make a joint request to the provincial government. The default speed for streets in BC is currently 50 km/h.
Proponents note multiple benefits of reducing side streets to 30 km/h. Fewer collisions and better experiences for pedestrians and cyclists would immediately improve the many streets in Saanich without sidewalks.
Improved infrastructure and more environmentally sustainable buses are being welcomed by the University of Victoria. On Tuesday, the federal and provincial governments announced funding to provide BC Transit with six natural-gas buses that will replace diesel buses currently in the system. As well, UVic is getting an enhanced transit exchange on campus that includes better paths and bike storage to encourage students to cycle to school.
“This project will help us reach our goal of having 70% of all trips to and from campus facilitated by public transit or active transportation," UVic's president and vice-chancellor Kevin Hall says. "These transit improvements complement our Campus Cycling Plan and give our campus community and neighbours greener and healthier commuting choices from their doorstep to school, work and play.”
The new buses will be fueled by compressed or renewable natural gas, and replace buses at the end of their service life.
The federal contribution will be $4.9 million while the province will provide $4.5 million. The Victoria Regional Transit Commission and UVic will chip in $1.9 million.
A casino in the District of Saanich could spur development of a hotel and resort and offer a new source of revenue that would take some of the burden off residents, business and industry. The BC Lottery Corp. has asked Saanich if there is interest in pursuing the idea, after plans for a casino in downtown Victoria fell through.
“It’s an opportunity to get some real funding for our amenities … bicycle paths, sidewalks. How about a third ice surface for Saanich?” Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes told CHEK News.
The discussion is in early stages but Mayor Haynes suggested the location will be in east Saanich, between the Swan Lake area and Gordon Head.
Less than a week after the City of Victoria voted to end daytime sheltering in parks by May 1, an announcement today provides more information on longer-term solutions for people experiencing homelessness. BC Housing has purchased properties to build permanent supportive housing in Victoria at:
Also announced today are supportive housing projects in the District of Saanich (2949 Albina St., 52 homes) and Central Saanich (1909 Prosser Rd., 39 homes), which were purchased through a partnership between the federal and provincial governments and the Capital Regional District.
The six projects will add more than 280 supportive housing units to Greater Victoria, which will allow everyone who needs shelter to be able to move indoors.
On Monday, Chamber CEO Bruce Williams was on CFAX urging everyone to stay compassionate in these difficult times. It hasn't been easy but better times are coming and we want to celebrate together when they arrive.
The City of Victoria is extending its network of bike lanes, adding 4.8 kilometres with a recently approved plan. The new lanes will serve riders of all ages and abilities and connect Fernwood, Oaklands and the Jubilee area with downtown.
Safe cycling lanes encourage active commuting, contribute to safe cities and help employers' efforts to find and keep workers. To have your say in the ongoing discussion about the city's cycling network, visit engage.victoria.ca.
The future of housing in the District of Saanich is up for discussion as council is set to receive a report on March 22 with 74 recommendations. Saanich convened a Housing Strategy task force, which met 13 times between September and February.
The report ranks the priority of recommendations in specific areas of focus:
Residents will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the report. The Chamber continues to advocate for housing solutions that make life more affordable for the regional workforce needed for Greater Victoria's economy to thrive.
Renewed calls from the mayors of Victoria and Esquimalt for a regional police department need to be carefully considered in order to meet the best interests of Greater Victoria. The Victoria Police Department needs help. Victoria and Esquimalt account for about one-quarter of the region's total population of 400,000, yet VicPD is tasked with protecting a downtown that serves the entire region.
Before the pandemic, Victoria and Saanich were engaged in a Citizens' Assembly process that will examine the benefits and challenges of merging the two municipalities. One of the outcomes will be a better understanding of how Saanich and Victoria police departments can work together. After all, their role is to improve safety for citizens, many of who have daily lives that cross between municipalities.
Before the pandemic, The Chamber was encouraged that the Citizens' Assembly process, currently on hold until in-person meetings can be done safely, was the best way to move forward on better regional services. The concerns voiced by VicPD show how vital it is for that process to move forward as soon as possible.
One of the consequences of the pandemic was that a number of things were put on hold. Among them were restrictions on plastic bags as uncertainty about how COVID-19 spread created concerns around reusable alternatives. With a better understanding of the science, consumers are once again creating a demand for less plastic waste.
On April 15, the City of Victoria is scheduled to bring back a revised bylaw restricting plastic bags. Businesses can pick up a tool kit with posters, till toppers and fact sheets by emailing email@example.com.
The District of Saanich is also bringing back restrictions on plastic bags. Saanich council voted on Monday to add the bylaw to its June 15 meeting for final adoption.