COVID-19 updates & information

The City of Vernon’s top priority is the health and safety of our citizens, visitors and employees. In response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in BC, the City of Vernon has implemented several new and updated measures to maintain City services, help contain the spread of infection in our community, and continue providing a healthy and safe work environment for our employees.

In the North Okanagan, the Interior Health Authority (IHA) is the lead agency in response to the community impact of the COVID-19 virus. The City continues to take its direction from the Province of B.C. and Government of Canada. All residents are encouraged to follow the guidelines and directives of Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC's Provincial Health Officer, in helping to reduce the spread of the virus.

 

Latest City updates on COVID-19

The City of Vernon has implemented several actions to help contain the spread of COVID-19 in the North Okanagan, as well as support our community during this difficult time. 

Temporary Outdoor Commercial Uses

In recognition of current provincial COVID-19 guidelines for physical distancing, Council has approved temporary measures for businesses to expand commercial uses into adjacent public spaces. As of June 1, 2020, businesses located within the two downtown Business Improvement Areas are able to expand their business operations into on-street parking spaces and sidewalks. 

Also as of June 1, 2020, businesses throughout the city that have adjacent private parking lots are allowed to expand their commercial uses in up to 50% of their required parking spaces until September 30, 2020.

Businesses are required to enter into a Use Agreement with the City and follow a set of guidelines, but will not need to get a permit or pay a fee.

Use of public parking spaces and sidewalks 

Process for using public parking space or sidewalks:

  1. Download and review guidelines
  2. Complete Licence of Occupation, including site plan (not table layout just an outline of space to be used)
  3. Submit Licence of Occupation, site plan and proof of insurance by email to buildingcounter@vernon.ca or in person at the Community Services Building 

Use of private parking lots

Process for use of private parking lots:

  1. Download and review guidelines
  2. Complete Use Agreement, including site plan (not table layout just an outline of space to be used)
  3. Submit use Agreement and site plan by email to buildingcounter@vernon.ca or in person at the Community Services Building 
Financial relief measures for residents and businesses

2020 Property Taxes: Council amended the 2020 property tax structure to provide assistance for residential property owners. The changes are as follows:

  • 2020 City of Vernon property taxes are due July 2, 2020, with a 10% penalty applied to unpaid taxes as of October 1, 2020;
  • An automatic, one-time municipal tax grant was established for residential property owners, equivalent to 3.2% of the municipal portion of the Property Tax Notice; and
  • There will be no change in the proportion of tax revenue between property classes from 2019 to 2020.

First quarter utility bills: Council waived all interest charges for the first quarterly utility billing period (which runs January to March 2020).  Utility bills for this period were mailed in April. Normally, the due date for the first quarter bill would be mid-May, after which any unpaid balances would be subject to interest charges. However, the waiving of interest charges for this period provided more time for customers to pay their bill if they needed it.  

Metered and two-hour parking: Council suspended bylaw enforcement of on-street metered and two-hour parking zones until July 1, with the exception of enforcement related to safety issues. The temporary change was intended to encourage people to use the Downtown and access businesses that remained open.

Recreation facilities, playgrounds and outdoor spaces

Most indoor recreation facilities and the Polson spray park are closed until further notice. 

City of Vernon parks, trails, athletic courts (pickleball and tennis), outdoor playgrounds, outdoor pools, the skatepark, beaches and boat launches are open. The Kal Tire Place North arena will open July 9. Residents are reminded to continue practicing physical distancing and sound hygiene while using these public spaces. 

Greater Vernon Recreation Services has worked with the BC Recreation & Parks Association and local organizations to develop a framework for safely reintroducing activities, programs and recreation opportunities to our citizens in a way that will allow for participation while meeting the criteria that BC's Provincial Health Officer has outlined.

For those looking for activity ideas at home with kids, Greater Vernon Recreation Services is sharing ideas on its Facebook page: @VernonRecreation.

City Hall and other City facilities

Vernon indoor recreation facilities and the Visitor Information Centre are closed; however, other City facilities (such as City Hall, the Community Services Building and City Operations) remain open to the public. 

Apparatus has been installed in all City facilities to maintain proper physical distancing between staff and members of the public, as well as between staff members. Hand washing stations, plexiglass dividers, marked positions for queuing, and increased cleaning protocols have been put in place. Signage has also been installed at all City facilities to provide information on COVID-19, how to practice physical distancing and reminders about how we can keep each other safe. 

Members of the public are asked to call or email instead of visiting a City facility, if possible. 

Anyone who is sick, has been around someone who is sick, or has travelled outside the country within the last 14 days is asked to not enter a City facility.

Making payments at City facilities

To help reduce touch points in the community, the City is asking customers to avoid cash and coin payments, and instead use options such as cheque, Interac or credit card. We recognize this may not be possible for all customers, but we do strongly encourage the following forms of payment at our facilities:

  • City Hall or Community Services Building: cheque or Interac
  • Bylaw Office: cheque, Interac, or online with Visa or Mastercard if paying a ticket
  • Vernon Regional Airport: cheque, Interac, Visa or Mastercard

We appreciate your assistance to reduce touch points in the community to contain the spread of COVID-19.

City Council meetings and Public Hearings

Regularly scheduled Council meetings have resumed in Council Chambers with physical distancing measures in place (limited seating is available). 

All Public Hearings will be held at the Recreation Centre Auditorium until further notice. You can learn more about how to participate in Public Hearings here

Vernon Regional Transit

Vernon Regional Transit - in coordination with BC Transit - has resumed front bus loading and fare collection as of June 1, 2020.

BC Transit has installed a temporary vinyl panel to buses to allow for physical distancing for the operator and customers on all buses without a full driver door. This new safety measure aligns with the direction from the Provincial Health Officer.

With the change to front door loading and collecting fares, other safety measures already implemented will remain in effect including:

  • Enhanced cleaning on buses and at BC Transit facilities.
  • Communication to staff and customers about physical distancing procedures.
  • Limiting passenger capacity to support physical distancing.
  • Enhancing the red line for passengers to stand behind.
  • Vinyl panels on light duty buses.
Bylaw compliance and public health orders

On March 26, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General announced that under section 9 (1) of the Emergency Program Act, Bylaw enforcement officers are to provide assistance “as may be required for the purposes of enforcing public health orders.”

According to the Order, the assistance provided by Bylaw officers may include:

  • Monitoring facilities and areas closed to the public by a public health order;
  • Providing warnings, information and advice to businesses and members of the public in respect of public health orders, including warnings to businesses and members of the public who may be acting in contravention of a public health order;
  • Providing health officers with information in respect of potential contraventions of a public health order.

Under the Order, Bylaw officers are not authorized to:

  • Detain an individual as a result of a contravention or suspected contravention of a public health order, or
  • Issue a fine or penalty, including an administrative penalty, under the Public Health Act.

If Bylaw officers observe a possible contravention of a public health order (such as a large gathering of people), they may provide members of the public with education and verbal warnings, but then must report the possible contravention to the Provincial Health Authority for any further action.

Further details on Ministerial Order No. M082 are available here: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/mo/mo/2020_m082.

Building inspections

Members of the public are asked to call or email, and ONLY come in to a City facility to drop off materials that are not practical to email, make a payment, or pick up a building permit.

In order to protect our Building Inspectors:

  • Building inspections continue, except for inspections that occur in a finished or occupied building.
  • Screening questions will be asked at the time of scheduling inspections to ensure adequate physical distancing measures are in place.
Public engagement activities

In-person, City sponsored public engagement events have been cancelled until further notice. 

We encourage you to visit our online public engagement hub, www.engagevernon.ca, to learn about current engagement opportunities and upcoming projects. 

Open burning ban issued in Vernon

On March 26, Vernon Fire Rescue Services (VFRS) cancelled all open burning permits within the City of Vernon.

Even through VFRS is not issuing burn permits at this time, small campfires are allowed, so long as they adhere to the City of Vernon Good Neighbour Bylaw. 

If you choose to have a small campfire, please remember:

  • Only burn dry, seasoned wood
  • Never leave a fire unattended
  • Be mindful of smoke’s impact on neighbours; don’t allow dense smoke or noxious odours
  • Keep water or a hand tool nearby at all times when the campfire is lit
  • Ensure the fire is fully doused before walking away at the end of your time outside
Online City services available for use

Council and Administration are encouraging residents to use online services, telephone calls, or email to contact City staff whenever possible. Online City services include:

COVID-19-related news updates

View all recent City of Vernon notices and media releases.

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

Where can I find reliable COVID-19 information?
COVID-19 Non-health information

1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319)
This phone line is open seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. PST

COVID-19 Health information

Government of B.C. news updates
Government of Canada news updates
BC COVID-19 Support App

Download the BC COVID-19 App for updates, critical alerts, a self-assessment tool and resources from public health.

Canada COVID-19 Support App

Download the Canada COVID-19 App to track your symptoms, receive the latest updates, and access trusted resources.

Resources for local businesses and workers
Temporary Outdoor Commercial Uses

In recognition of current provincial COVID-19 guidelines for physical distancing, Council has approved temporary measures for businesses to expand commercial uses into adjacent public spaces. As of June 1, 2020, businesses located within the two downtown Business Improvement Areas are able to expand their business operations into on-street parking spaces and sidewalks. 

Also as of June 1, 2020, businesses throughout the city that have adjacent private parking lots are allowed to expand their commercial uses in up to 50% of their required parking spaces until September 30, 2020.

Businesses are required to enter into a Use Agreement with the City and follow a set of guidelines, but will not need to get a permit or pay a fee.

Use of public parking spaces and sidewalks 

Process for using public parking space or sidewalks:

  1. Download and review guidelines
  2. Complete Licence of Occupation, including site plan (not table layout just an outline of space to be used)
  3. Submit Licence of Occupation, site plan and proof of insurance by email to buildingcounter@vernon.ca or in person at the Community Services Building 

Use of private parking lots

Process for use of private parking lots:

  1. Download and review guidelines
  2. Complete Use Agreement, including site plan (not table layout just an outline of space to be used)
  3. Submit use Agreement and site plan by email to buildingcounter@vernon.ca or in person at the Community Services Building 
BC's Restart Plan

The Government of British Columbia has announced BC's Restart Plan - a four-phase approach for the recovery stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes guidelines to help us keep each other safe and continue suppressing the transmission of the virus. 

You can find the full plan on the Province's website, including details on which sectors and facilities may reopen during each phase and how businesses can develop safe operation plans with WorkSafeBC.

WorkSafeBC: Returning to safe operation - Phase 2

The Province of British Columbia has announced BC's Restart Plan - a four-phase approach for the recovery stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes guidelines to help us keep each other safe and continue suppressing the transmission of the virus. 

WorkSafeBC is working with employers to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan that outlines the policies, guidelines, and procedures they have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

WorkSafeBC is providing employers with information and resources to assist them in ensuring the risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 is minimized at their workplace.

(source: WorkSafeBC)

North Okanagan Together (#NOKTogether)

A new website called NOKTogether.com was launched April 7, to provide businesses and residents access to a single hub of relevant and timely information, as well as important tools, to help endure the COVID-19 crisis.

#NOKTogether is a regional partnership between several business organizations and local governments, including the City of Vernon, to bring the most relevant updates and tools into one place during a rapidly changing event.

The NOKTogether.com website has streams of curated resources for employees and employers, as well as additional health resources, news updates and a list of businesses still open in the region. The website also hosts a curated list of virtual meetups - webinars, online training and virtual roundtables.

ABOUT #NOKTogether
#NOKTogether is a collaboration of business support organizations and local government with a goal of streamlining communication and resources to support local businesses and residents through the new website noktogether.com. The project is supported by Community Futures North Okanagan, City of Vernon, Lumby & District Chamber of Commerce, Splatsin Band, Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, City of Armstrong, Downtown Vernon Association, City of Enderby, Enderby & District Chamber of Commerce, Township of Spallumcheen, Village of Lumby, Okanagan Indian Band, the Regional District of the North Okanagan, Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce, Beach Radio and Vernon Matters.

Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is helping local businesses find resources and build connections to navigate the impacts of COVID-19. The Chamber is part of the #NOKTogether hub and Vision North Okanagan, and is a partner in programs such as RELAUNCH Vernon and #OKwegotthis.

Downtown Vernon Association

The Downtown Vernon Association (DVA) is helping Downtown businesses find resources and build connections to navigate the impacts of COVID-19. The DVA is part of the #NOKTogether hub and Vision North Okanagan, and has resources available on its website for employers and employees.

Community Futures North Okanagan

Community Futures North Okanagan (CFNO) is helping North Okanagan businesses find resources and build connections to navigate the impacts of COVID-19. Community Futures is part of the #NOKTogether hub and Vision North Okanagan.

CFNO is also helping businesses with emergency loan funding. Find more information here.

Resources for seniors, mental health and wellness
Seniors information & support

Dial 211 if you are a senior looking for help (or are a volunteer willing to help).

BC 211 matches the needs of seniors who need support with non-medical essentials to volunteers in the community. Register at bc211.ca or call 211.

The service is available for seniors (65+) who need help with:

  • Grocery shopping and delivery
  • Meal preparation and delivery
  • Prescription pickup and delivery
  • Phone and/or virtual friendly visits

Mental health & crisis lines
  • Mental Health Info Line: 1-800-661-2121
  • Interior Crisis Line: 1-888-353-2273
  • BC Crisis Line: 1-800-784-2433
  • Kids' Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Canadian Mental Health Association

The Vernon branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association is available to help with COVID-19 tips and resources.

Anxiety Canada

This website provides information and resources to help reduce anxiety, get a better night’s sleep, and manage uncertainty: Anxietycanada.com