Over the course of the last week, the City of Fernie has announced several decisions meant to help residents cope with the various burdens of COVID-19.
On March 19, the city announced an extension on the due date for first quarter utility invoices from March 31 to April 30, 2020. City council also authorized the waiving of the five per cent penalty charged on outstanding amounts until the new deadline.
This announcement showcases some of the first steps the city is taking to provide immediate relief for residents and businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19 related shut downs in Fernie.
“I am encouraged by the messaging from the province and the Government of Canada, they are committing to engaging local government and have provided us an opportunity to have our questions and concerns heard,” said mayor Ange Qualizza. “I am committed to ensuring our needs and concerns are represented and will work tirelessly to support Fernie through this emergency.”
The City of Fernie will continue to work with the provincial and federal governments as advocates for our community.
On March 23, the city also officially closed all playgrounds and play structures within Fernie. This included all playgrounds found within City of Fernie parks and on school grounds closed by School District #5. While parks and trails still remain open as of this writing, public washrooms were also shut down.
In a press release from the city, they noted that council also moved forward with several amendments to the council procedures bylaw. This will improve the city’s ability to facilitate online meetings of council, in keeping with recommended social distancing procedures. The changes made to the bylaw are significant in that they will “ensure council’s ability to keep moving business during this provincial state of emergency.”
Another measure the City of Fernie has taken to respond to the crisis is activating their Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). This centre will become a central point for communication and collaboration within the city about all things COVID-19 related.
“Our goal through this situation has been to be prepared,” said Qualizza. “The focus of our response remains protecting the health and safety of our employees and the community, initiating an EOC in Fernie will assist us in having an enhanced level of coordination in response to this emerging situation.”
As provincial and federal directives are announced almost daily, the City of Fernie is working to properly disseminate information to residents and business owners in Fernie.