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Statement from the B.C. Urban Mayor's Caucus on Federal Budget 2021 | April 19 2021
On behalf of the B.C. Urban Mayors’ Caucus, Co-Chairs Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps released the following statement following the tabling of Federal Budget 2021. “Today’s Federal budget includes measures that will help safeguard and improve the livability and sustainability of municipalities across B.C. during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, while, most importantly, supporting the health of our citizens. “We are pleased to see many commitments in the budget, including on pandemic support programs, housing affordability, and mental health services, that align with our B.C. Urban Mayors’ Caucus Blueprint, which presents a vision to address the most pressing issues facing cities across B.C. as we fight and recover from COVID-19. “We welcome the extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and lock-down support until September. We call on the government to collaborate with all stakeholders on the optimal design of those programs going forward and the right parameters for their eventual tapering. “The shortage of affordable housing continues to be a critical issue in our communities and dedicated federal attention to the issue is an essential part of the solution. “The budget allocations of $1.5 billion for the Rapid Housing Initiative in 2021-22 and $600 million for the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund are crucial re-investments in programs that have increased the affordable housing stock in our communities. The decision to re-allocate $1.3 billion in other affordable housing spending to this fiscal year from later years also demonstrates that the Federal government understands the urgency of this matter. "It is also heartening to see that mental health services and substance use treatment are a major focus of the budget. We know that the pandemic has been hard on many people. “New funding announced today for the Substance Use and Addictions Program, to support harm reduction, treatment, and prevention at the community level, is a needed investment that empowers our communities to participate in addressing the opioid crisis and other forms of substance use. The funding allocated for mental health supports for those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, like health care and front-line workers, youth, seniors, Indigenous people, and racialized people, will also be invaluable in the coming months and is the kind of prevention needed ensure these situations don’t become chronic. “Finally, prior to the budget, the Federal government announced potentially transformative investments in public transit, including new permanent funding for municipalities and a one-time top-up of the Gas Tax Fund. As we build back from COVID-19, we know how important clean, affordable public transit is to the growth and competitiveness of our cities. Proper consultation on the design of those transit programs is essential in the near term. “As the Mayors of B.C.’s largest urban centres, our Caucus looks forward to continuing to work with the Federal government for the benefit of all our residents.”   About the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus The BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus is an informal, non-partisan group of mayors from Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, New Westminster, Prince George, Richmond, Saanich, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria, representing over 55 per cent of the province’s total population. The group came together in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and acts as a unified voice on critical issues facing their communities and urban British Columbia. The group published the Blueprint for British Columbia’s Urban Future, which outlines four key priorities for urban communities across the province: Mental Health, Substance Use and Treatment Affordable Housing Public Transit A New Fiscal Framework  Read the Blueprint.  
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What's Up at Council on Thursday, April 22? | April 19 2021
What's Up At Council? is our bi-weekly video series that gives you a glance at what's coming up for discussion and decision making at City Council.  Hosted by Mayor Lisa Helps, this week's episode is available here and on the City of Victoria's social media channels.  Here's What’s Up At Council on Thursday, April 22 at 6:30 p.m. View the meeting agenda and tune in to the live webcast. Council Meetings – How to Participate Throughout the global pandemic, City Council has been meeting regularly. Although you can't attend in person due to COVID-19, there are many ways to participate.  What City Council meetings are where final decisions are made that will most impact you. Mayor and Council convene twice a month to make decisions about bylaws and development permits, City business such as programs and services, and our Strategic Plan initiatives. When Victoria City Council meetings normally occur on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall. Agendas are posted the Friday before by 3 p.m. here. NOTE: To accommodate renovations to the HVAC system at City Hall, from March 4 to June 10, meetings of Council will be held at the CRD Boardroom and will be webcast live and archived. How to Watch a Council Meeting You can watch the live webcast from the comfort of your home. Council webcasts are archived online so you can view at your convenience. View the 2021 Council Meeting Schedule. How to Participate in a Virtual Public Hearing Public hearings are held at Council meetings to provide Victoria citizens an opportunity to share their views on how land in their community is proposed to be used. During the pandemic, you can indicate your support or opposition to a Virtual Public Hearing item by submitting written comments or a pre-recorded video in advance, or by pre-registering to call-in. Learn how to participate in a Virtual Public Hearing. How to Request to Address Council on a Topic You can also address Council on a topic other than a public hearing by filling out the Request to Address Council Form. City staff will follow up with you on how to participate via conference call.  What Was Decided? Council Highlights provide a snapshot of the progress made on City programs, initiatives and on Council decision-making. Sign up to receive our Council Highlights by emailing engage@victoria.ca. Who Voted for What? You can see and track Council voting records at the click of a mouse with the Council Meeting Dashboard. The dashboard makes it easy to see how members of Council voted on a particular motion and gives you more tools to access and analyze information about decisions that impact you. The dashboard begins at the start of Council’s four-year term in November 2018.
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City Builds for Resilient Future, Accelerates Infrastructure Renewal | April 19 2021
This week, crews will break ground on a $53.8 million 10-year accelerated renewal of critical infrastructure, with funding support from the Government of Canada’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund.  “It's important to invest in infrastructure projects that help communities better prepare for natural disasters like floods and earthquakes,” said the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change on behalf of Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “I’m pleased to see these upgrades getting underway to protect residents, businesses, and the beautiful coastal city from impacts of seismic and climate-related events. Canada's infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country, and builds cleaner, more inclusive and more resilient communities.” Accelerating the replacement and rehabilitation of water distribution, sanitary sewer and stormwater systems will help keep the City’s underground assets in good condition, reduce future infrastructure cost and repairs, and create a more climate resilient city. The Government of Canada is contributing more than $15.3 million to this program through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF). “Victoria has some of the oldest underground infrastructure in Canada - there are pipes installed more than 100 years ago,” said Mayor Lisa Helps. “These upgrades will ensure safe, reliable service for our growing city and help protect critical underground infrastructure from earthquakes and a changing climate, such as sea level rise and extreme storms.” The first Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation project will take place along Cook Street from Hilda Street to McClure Street, with the next upgrades slated for Superior Street, Yates Street and Dallas Road later this spring, summer and fall. 2021 DMAF underground infrastructure renewal projects include: Sanitary Sewer Main Replacement Cook Street - Hilda Street to McClure Street (Spring 2021) Stormwater Main Replacement Superior Street – Oswego Street to Menzies Street (Spring 2021)   Dallas Road – west of St. Charles Street (Summer 2021) Water Main Replacement (part of the Downtown Fire Protection Program) Yates Street - Quadra Street to Cook Street (Summer/Fall 2021) Cook Street - Yates Street to Pandora Avenue (Summer/Fall 2021) Local residents and businesses will be notified in advance of the work, and resident access will be maintained during any temporary road closures. The City is coordinating works with other improvements such as road paving, sidewalk replacements and accessibility upgrades, and will use less disruptive construction methods, including trenchless rehabilitation whenever possible. Over the next 10 years, the City will increase capital infrastructure investments by 40 per cent, allocating a total of $53.8 million for 78 capital infrastructure projects to protect the health and resiliency of our community and the environment. Learn more about the City's Underground Asset Renewal Program. For more information on federal infrastructure funding, visit: infrastructure.gc.ca.
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Plastic Bag Bylaw Comes Into Effect Today | April 15 2021
  Victoria’s Checkout Bag Regulation Bylaw is back in effect and consumers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags when supporting local businesses. “Reducing the distribution of single-use plastic items in Victoria is helping to keep plastic waste out of our landfill, save tax dollars and protect the environment,” said Mayor Lisa Helps. “Most businesses have continued to encourage the use of reusable bags. Resuming the Checkout Bag Bylaw is a simple step to maintain our forward momentum towards reaching our goal to reduce waste by 50% by 2040 and be fully zero waste by 2050.” With the bylaw now back in effect, all businesses have the same requirements in place previously which include restricting the use of plastic checkout bags and charging a fee for paper bags. The City has noted excellent compliance with the original bylaw and will continue to focus on supporting businesses with education and awareness to ensure ongoing success. “The Chamber worked closely with the City to ensure the bylaw reflected the work already being done by businesses to reduce waste and look after customer requests,” Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Williams said. “The public asked for this change and businesses responded. Victoria is to be commended for shaping the bylaw to ensure adoption by businesses, and for using a model that allows for seamless adoption of these regulations across our region.” Reusable bags have been shown to be safe to use during COVID-19, with many local businesses still encouraging their use to reduce waste. Initially adopted in 2018, the bylaw was the first of its kind in the province. The bylaw has since been replicated by over 20 other municipalities across Canada, including Saanich, Esquimalt and Nanaimo. Before the initial bylaw’s implementation, it is estimated that Victorians disposed of 17 million single-use plastic bags annually. Residents and businesses can send their questions about the bylaw to reusablebags@victoria.ca. Learn more about Zero Waste Victoria.
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Call for Entries to 2021 Victoria Book Prizes | April 15 2021
VICTORIA, BC – Submissions are now being accepted for the $5,000 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize and the $5,000 City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize. The City of Victoria Butler Book Prize is awarded to a local author for the best book of fiction, literary non-fiction or poetry published in the preceding year. Established in 2004, this prize is a partnership between the City of Victoria and Brian Butler of Butler Brothers Supplies. The City of Victoria Children’s Book Prize is awarded to an author or illustrator of literature for children or youth. It was established in 2008 by the late Mel Bolen and has been sponsored by the City of Victoria since 2020. “The annual Victoria Book Prizes celebrate the very best of our literary talent, putting a spotlight on the passion and creativity of our local authors. I encourage anyone looking for extra activities while staying close to home to seek out work from a local author from a local bookstore,” said Mayor Lisa Helps. “I am looking forward to another year of brilliant submissions!” Due to the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Victoria Book Prize Society is accepting submission of books that missed the call for the 2020 prize. For the 2021 prize, books submitted must have been published between April 1, 2019, and March 31, 2021, must not have been submitted in 2020, and must be a new work, not a reissue or a revision of a previous work. Deadline for submissions is Friday, May 21, 2021. “Last year was a difficult one, full of many changes for everyone. The Victoria Book Prizes were no different, as we had to quickly adapt to an ever-changing world with social distancing and other restrictions,” said Darrell Joyce, president of the Victoria Book Prize Society. “Fortunately, we were able to work with our friends at the Victoria Festival of Authors (VFA) to put on our first-ever virtual gala, which was a huge success thanks to our Board, the VFA, and the generous support of our major sponsors, including Brian Butler and the City of Victoria. We look forward with anticipation to planning this year's gala, in whatever form it takes.” The Victoria Book Prize Society is a volunteer-run organization that establishes the policy and criteria for the prizes, appoints the juries and administers the competitions. Two independent juries composed of representatives from the literary arts community review and assess the submissions. The Victoria Book Prize Society would like to thank and acknowledge the following organizations for their support: the City of Victoria, Brian Butler of Butler Brothers Supplies, the Union Club of British Columbia, the Magnolia Hotel and Spa, Chateau Victoria, the Inn at Laurel Point, Friesens Corporation, CBC Radio, Island Blue Print Co. and the Greater Victoria Public Library. For more information, including submission forms and guidelines, visit www.victoriabookprizes.ca.
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