Prince Rupert Mayor, Lee Brain will present a motion to City Council to declare the city in a state of emergency over the COVID-19 pandemic. The motion will be brought forward at a regularly scheduled meeting on March 23.
“As a small island community in the north, we have a major opportunity to be resilient and as best as possible withstand the detrimental effects of this virus if we are smart and act fast,” Brain said.
Due to social distancing measures, city hall is closed to the public, however the council meeting will be live streamed at 7 p.m. City councilors will attend the meeting by telephone.
All considerations for business, industry, essential services, families, children, seniors, vulnerable individuals will be taken into account during the meeting. The surrounding communities of Lax Kw’alaams, Metlakatla, Kitkatla, Hartley Bay, Dodge Cove, Oona River and personal lifestyle will also be discussed, as well as what are measures are necessary, including current and future Provincial and Federal orders, Brain said.
Discussions include a new framework on public access and personal lifestyle, a new framework on travel and transit, a new framework for grocery stores, supplies and deliveries – among other discussions.
Brain issued a social media post on March 22 and said he believes there can be no further wait to take localized actions which are necessary to protect the city from what is to come.
“Currently, the details of what provisions will be invoked are being worked on by myself, the physician’s group and our team within our Emergency Operations Center (comprised of key emergency personnel stakeholders such as the RCMP, Fire Department, Incident Command, City staff, Northern Health, etc),” said the post.
Brain said he has reached out to colleagues in Port Edward and Haida Gwaii and they are all moving in the same direction. The City is also working closely with the local medical community and wants to issue assurances that what ever decision is passed will have been reviewed and endorsed by the physicians.
“It is clear that we will all potentially be living like this for the next few months, and establishing a new system of being within the community is paramount now in order for us all to have clarity in how we should be living our lives during this crisis, ” Brain said.
On March 22, the City also issued an order that all city parks and play grounds are now closed.
“Close contact and sanitation limitations of these public spaces present too high a risk under the current Provincial Order for social distancing and hygiene practices. As per this Order, everyone is currently being asked to limit activities outside their home,” the City said in a press release.
“We understand that this is a difficult time for families having to stay home with young children, however the Provincial Medical Health Officer has made it clear that because of the incubation period and rapid transmission, the self-isolation and social distancing that we do today will benefit all of us two weeks and two months from now. These are difficult but necessary choices that must be made in the broader interest of all residents,” the City said.
“We want to ensure people are feeling supported, yet at the same time set strict, clear and definitive boundaries on what is and is not allowed right now, ” Brain said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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