The City of Kamloops continues to support the Province’s response to COVID-19 following the March 26 ministerial orders from Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. Through these orders, the City has the ability to respond more quickly to the evolving situation and hold more flexible Council meetings to expedite decisions.
CLICK ABOVE TO WATCH: Mayor Ken Christian provides an update on the City's continued response to COVID-19
The City's Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is continuing to operate in order to help support the Province's directions, meet the needs of our community, and ensure our essential services—such as police, fire, water, sewer, solid waste—continue through this pandemic.
The City has evaluated staffing levels by balancing the need to maintain minimum service levels and the need to meet the direction from the provincial health authorities. Yesterday, the City delivered temporary layoff notices to close to 100 on-call and part-time staff, and a large part of the remaining workforce is working from home. In addition, all current vacant positions have been put on hold.
With minimal staffing levels, the City is not able to address each request for service in the same timeline as normal. As such, staff are prioritizing the incoming requests for service using criteria based on public and employee safety.
Bylaw Services, in particular, has received an overwhelming number of calls from concerned residents. While we understand residents’ concerns, Bylaw Officers are only able to provide education, and do not have the authority to issue fines or other enforcement measures. Officers are routinely patrolling the city to educate residents about how and why to implement physical distancing measures.
For the safety of City sanitation employees, the City is reinforcing proper physical distancing and hygiene protocols at Mission Flats Landfill, which may result in extended delays for customers.
The City is also reviewing transit, with a view to further reduce service levels as well as limit the number of passengers on each bus to adhere to physical distancing. The City will provide more information next week as decisions are made.
On March 20 at noon, the City of Kamloops put a State of Local Emergency (SOLE) into effect because, at that time, there was a lack of information, direction, and supports for the City of Kamloops to implement Dr. Henry's public health orders. The City believes that those concerns have been addressed with the announcements from the Minister Farnworth yesterday. The City's SOLE was set to expire at noon today, March 27, as it was in place for only a seven-day period. The City also believes that various British Columbia local governments putting these SOLEs in place over the last week helped the Province understand the challenges that local governments were facing in exercising Dr. Henry's orders. Going forward, the City of Kamloops will continue working collaboratively with the Province.
To stay up to date on the City’s response to COVID-19, visit Kamloops.ca/COVID.