After a busy few months of changes due to the COVID-19 crisis, the City of Vernon is taking a moment to review the measures it has taken to maintain the health of its residents and businesses.
Earlier this month, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced B.C.’s Restart Plan, a four-phased approach to moving the province through the next stages of the pandemic. The plan allowed facilities to reopen and services to resume within guidelines and a timeframe established by the provincial health officer.
The City of Vernon opted to remain open and fully operational during its COVID-19 pandemic response with the exception of recreation services. 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.
“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 said Friday, May 29.
The city has provided a list of steps it has so far taken to meet residents’ needs and ensure the safe operation of services, including:
- 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 cleaning has 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 said it will continue to follow the guidance, recommendations and orders issued by Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Solicitor General and senior levels of government as the COVID-19 crisis continues to develop.