A Victoria byelection could be pushed back until early 2021 as city staff wait for more direction from the province.
Last November, Coun. Laurel Collins stepped down from her position after being elected a the new NDP minister of parliament in October. A byelection to fill the vacancy was planned for April 4 but – like so many other events – had to be postponed as the pandemic took hold.
A report coming to the Committee of the Whole on Thursday states that when the April 4 byelection was cancelled, it used up approximately $90,000 of the $170,000 budgeted for the process, adding that there will be significant extra costs that come with conducting an election during the pandemic.
Staff will need several more weeks to determine the budget and timing of the by-election but will report back to council at such time.
Victoria is in talks with Burnaby – the largest two jurisdictions in the province facing byelections – on how to establish a safe and effective process amid COVID-19.
The report states that an initial analysis found mail-in ballot voting could work but if the city were to choose this route, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing would need to issue an order to expand mail ballot voting for anyone interested. Currently, only people who will be away from the municipality at the general or advanced voting times or those with an illness, injury or physical disability that affects their ability to vote are allowed to use mail-in ballots.
Staff are working on assessing possible voting locations and reassessing a number of other voting locations based on social distancing requirements.