Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps provided an update to the COVID-19 situation on April 1. (Screenshot/ Facebook City of Victoria – local government).

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps provided an update to the COVID-19 situation on April 1. (Screenshot/ Facebook City of Victoria – local government).

Victoria to plant up to 75,000 food seedlings; staff explore measures to help construction projects

Vancouver Island records its first deaths related to COVID-19

The City of Victoria will plant 50,000 to 75,000 food seedlings in its greenhouses to help those looking for more food security.

This was one of the things announced by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps in her daily COVID-19 update on April 2.

“Some park staff will be repurposed to work with partners on the Urban Food Table,” she said, referring to a local food distribution network. “We’ll plant between 50-75,000 food plants in the nursery and distribute them through community partnerships.”

READ MORE: Victoria councillors want city greenhouses used for food production during COVID-19

Helps also said that the city is exploring all “fiscal and legal” avenues to help small businesses, including exploring deferring property taxes. Staff will report back on this in the near future.

Staff are also looking at what changes can be made in the development application process to help construction projects continue, after the province identified construction as an essential service. Staff are expected to bring back reports on different approaches shortly.

Helps extended thanks to the Victoria Police Department for their continued services, as well as for their efforts during the pandemic. She also thanked local grocery store workers, and asked people to limit their weekly shopping trips and to be kind to people while shopping.

Helps echoed pleas put out both by VicPD Chief Const. Del Manak and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “protect those who protect us” by continuing social distancing.

Federal Updates:

On April 2 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said too many people are going out needlessly, but that presently any official restrictions will continue to come from the provincial level of government. When asked if there would be any federal mandates put in place, he said: “We’re not quite yet at that point.”

READ MORE: Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

Provincial Updates:

The provincial government announced on April 2 that $3.5 million in emergency funds will be distributed to domestic B.C. post-secondary students in need of financial relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province also announced an additional $300 per month in COVID-19 support for people on disability and income assistance, and that claw-backs would not happen if anyone on either of these programs will also be receiving the $2,000 monthly cheque from the upcoming Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Lastly, while buses are free, the province will return the funding automatically deducted from some workers’ paycheques to cover monthly bus passes.

READ MORE: First two COVID-19 deaths hit Vancouver Island

Across B.C. there have been six new deaths reported since April 1, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, including the first two recorded on Vancouver Island.

There are a total of 55 new cases, bringing the provincial total up to 1,121 with 72 on Vancouver Island, unchanged since yesterday.

– with files from Katya Slepian

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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