Victoria approved $350,000 in additional funding to make a byelection happen this December.
A byelection was planned for earlier this year to replace Laurel Collins who stepped down from council after being elected a Member of Parliament in October 2019. The byelection was postponed due to the pandemic.
A new date of Dec. 12 has been set.
During Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, city staff gave council the green light to proceed on the byelection if council approved a number of motions.
According to city clerk Chris Coates, additional staffing will be needed to help administer various voting systems and practices put in place to protect people from the coronavirus. Coates stated in a report that staffing and voting locations that were secured for the planned April byelection are still available, but staff are working to secure additional and larger venues to accommodate voting inside.
City hall will be used as a voting location for eight advanced voting opportunities, meaning current plans to replace the HVAC system in the building in December will have to be delayed as staff could not be relocated at this time.
Changes to current bylaws will need to be made to reduce touchpoints, increase hours at voting locations in order to prevent crowds and mail ballot voting to enable staff to process everyone’s vote in a timely way. City staff are working with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to bring forward a ministerial order that would override sections of the bylaw to make the byelection happen.
Staff have also initiated information sharing and conversation about joint efforts with Elections BC about possibly piggybacking onto the provincial election to share pandemic infrastructure. When the April byelection was cancelled, it had used up approximately $90,000 of the $170,000 budgeted for the process, leading staff to request an additional $350,000 in funding to proceed with the byelection which council approved.