City of Fernie city hall. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

City of Fernie: New orders a challenge, but community is supportive

Mayor Qualizza said that the new public health orders were an opportunity to safeguard the winter season

With new provincial public health orders mandating the use of masks in all indoor public spaces, the City of Fernie has been vindicated in its decision to mandate masks within all city facilities only days before.

“The Provincial Health Orders follow closely behind the City’s own internal decision to create policy requiring masks in all our indoor public facilities,” said city Chief Administration Officer, Michael Boronowski, who added that the changes would unfortunately impact local sports teams the most.

“While user groups in our facilities must update their COVID-19 safety plans to reflect the new public health orders (PHO), we believe the impacts will be felt most by sports teams given the new restrictions on travel and spectators, and organizers planning events in city facilities. Staff have updated our internal documents and forms and will continue to work to ensure safe access to facilities and activities within the bounds of these new measures.”

Mayor Ange Qualizza said that timing of the orders was good to ensure that the Elk Valley had itself a bright winter season ahead of it.

“Right now we have a very well timed opportunity for all of us to hit pause, follow the orders and do our absolute best to flatten the curve. If we do our part now, we will all be able to get back to doing the things we love and welcoming visitors in time for our winter season,” she said.

“We all know that community health is our shared goal and locally we have seen sports clubs and fitness studios going beyond the orders to be a part of our success. I personally couldn’t be more thankful to see the community leadership that is happening in response to theses orders – those types of actions have a ripple effect and that is exactly what we need right now.”

In recent weeks there have been reports of push-back on municipal governments attempting to abide by provincial health orders, with the the manager of parks and facilities in nearby Kimberley resigning.

Boronowski said that for the City of Fernie, following the new rules was a matter of adaptation.

“The city is continuing to respond and adjust daily as new clarifications for workplace and public safety come down from the province and (Provincial Health Officer).

“Just like in every other city, staff in Fernie are feeling the frustration of community members struggling with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic,” he said.

Boronowski added that those who feel at liberty to take out their frustrations on municipal workers would just make life harder for themselves.

“Most of our community has done an amazing job of pulling together through this pandemic, but in rare instances this has not been the case. To support those groups and individuals who are helping reduce the spread, and to protect our staff and community health, groups and individuals not respecting the provincial orders will find their access to city facilities significantly limited.”

READ MORE: Province dishes out extra funding for municipalities
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