The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to be dynamic and impact communities in Canada and around the world. Earlier this month, Premier Horgan announced . The four-phase approach is aimed to move the province through the next steps of the pandemic, allowing facilities to reopen and services to resume within guidelines and a timeframe established by the Provincial Health Officer (PHO).
The City of Vernon has remained open and fully operational during the COVID-19 pandemic response, excepting Recreation Services. While many municipalities are starting to look at ways to open their doors and resume full services, the City made the decision to keep its doors open for all services (with the exception of Recreation Services). Maintaining the safety of our citizens, visitors and staff, while ensuring business continuity, has been the City’s top priority during this global pandemic.
The City has been monitoring and responding to the guidance, recommendations and orders issued by B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, the Solicitor General and senior levels of government. For those recreation services that have been closed, some outdoor facilities (such as pickleball and tennis courts) have reopened and planning is underway to open more facilities as long as provincial direction can be met and it is financially viable. Further, Council is taking innovative steps to provide ways for businesses to open and get back on their feet within provincial health guidelines.
Just some of the steps we’ve taken to respond to residents’ needs and ensure the safe operation of City services include:
- An up-to-date website with links to reliable COVID-19-related information and City news releases
- Signage about COVID-19, hand washing stations, physical distancing floor markers and plexiglass barriers have been installed in all City reception areas
- Additional cleanings have been implemented for public washrooms and City buildings
- Additional PPE and safety training have been provided to our first responders
- Bylaw Compliance Officers are assisting with PHO orders
- A Park Ambassador program has been established to provide information to residents about how we can spend time outside in a safe manner during the public health emergency
- Adapted development processes requiring public input to accommodate physical distancing
- Maintained building inspections and the 2020 capital program
- Adapted Council Chambers to accommodate physical distancing
- Waived interest on 2020 first quarter utility bills
- Adjusted the penalty date for 2020 City of Vernon property taxes
- Provided a one-time grant to residents to partially offset 2020 City of Vernon property taxes
- Suspended enforcement of on-street metered and two hour parking areas until July 1
- Suspended Vernon Regional Transit fares until June 1
- Automated downtown pedestrian crossings to reduce public touch points
- Provided the Curling Rink for vulnerable populations
- Permitting businesses to expand operations outside to accommodate physical distancing requirements
- Provided blanket approval for businesses to expand liquor service outside (with Provincial approval)
The City continues to monitor and respond to directives and guidelines from the provincial and federal governments. To learn more about the City’s response to COVID-19, please visit .