Upgrades to Water Main Along Belleville

Starting the week of February 27, 2017, work will begin to replace and upgrade a water main along Belleville Street, from Menzies Street to Oswego Street, in order to upgrade the cast iron water supply mains that was constructed over 60 years ago. The water main replacement is the first step in the “complete streets” improvements planned for this portion of Belleville Street in 2017.

This year, the City of Victoria is completing a number of water service upgrade projects designed to deliver high quality water to residents and make upgrades to improve fire suppression capacity and seismic capability. The existing cast iron water main is undersized for the James Bay area, so a larger diameter pipe is being installed and bolted together to help withstand possible earthquakes.

Construction will last approximately 12 weeks. The City will work to minimize inconvenience during the 7:45 am to 3:45 pm, construction hours and local access will be maintained. Some parking restrictions and temporary road closures will be required at times and some delays to traffic are expected.

The public is encouraged to use alternate routes if possible.

Victoria Fire Department Tackles Mental Health

Due to increased exposure to distressing situations and repetitive traumatic events, more and more first responders are experiencing symptoms of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. In an effort to address this worrisome trend, the Victoria Fire Department is partnering with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to provide resiliency training and support for first responders. 13 Victoria Fire Department members have become certified as instructors through CMHA and can deliver programs to firefighters throughout the Capital Region.

Since 2014, 183 first responders and military personnel have committed suicide in Canada, including 48 first responders in 2016. The Victoria Fire Department has seen an enormous surge in exposure to traumatic calls as the province-wide overdose crisis continues to be an issue. In 2015, the Victoria Fire Department was responding to an average of 6-7 overdoses per month. That number has since increased tenfold to 60-70 calls per month, taking a severe toll on first responders.

The trained instructors work with a local mental health professional to lead first responders through skill building workshops, which provide comprehensive information on trauma, mental health problems, and resiliency. The goal is to give first responders a personal toolkit to increase mental health literacy, encourage early access to care, and strengthen the psychological health of first responders. The training benefits both personal and workplace relationships and encourages discussion on mental and physical wellbeing.

 “By providing this training early and prior to the possible development of a mental injury, first responders are better prepared to face traumatic events, better serve the public, and recover more quickly if faced with a mental injury,” said Daniel Atkinson, Deputy Fire Chief.

All members of the Victoria Fire department will receive the first round of training by the end of 2017. The training will take place every year to build and maintain mental health resiliency.

Capital City Station Bus Depot and BC Transit Downtown Terminal Pilot Projects

Six Month Interim Report

Council extended the Capital City Station bus depot pilot to September 30, 2018 and directed staff to continue to monitor and assess operations and gather additional stakeholder feedback to make necessary minor modifications to improve operations. A report with a longer-term lease agreement and extension recommendations will be presented to Council in October 2017. The BC Transit turnaround/layover pilot on Government Street at Superior will continue and staff will monitor and assess the current operations and gather stakeholder feedback, presenting a long-term recommendation to Council also in October 2017.

Short-Term Vacation Rentals

Council will reconsider the issue of short-term vacation rentals at the next Committee of the Whole meeting on Thursday, March 2, 2017. The City will also write to the province asking there be a repeal of Section 78(1)(b) of the Provincial Sales Tax exemption and refund regulation.