Playgrounds remain closed but parks are open in the City of Vernon. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Playgrounds remain closed but parks are open in the City of Vernon. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Okanagan mayor ready for recovery, cautious of second COVID-19 wave

Letter to B.C. government outlines city’s activities and eagerness to return to normal

Dear Premier Horgan, Minister Dix, Dr. Henry:

Thank you.

Thank you for the clear, thoughtful leadership guiding British Columbia through the COVID-19 pandemic. The course set by your government, Minister Dix and Dr. Henry has contained the spread of the virus, reduced the confirmed cases, prevented chaos in our health care system and, most fortunately, reduced the loss of life.

The City of Vernon opened our Emergency Operations Centre on March 13, and has been operating at Level 2 since. Our EOC has guided implementation of Provincial Orders and direction from Dr. Henry, Minister Dix and the Solicitor General. Our City has managed to remain open for business to support our residents and businesses as we maneuver through the staggering impacts of COVID-19. We assertively practice social distancing to best protect clients and staff, our buildings are well signed, have handwashing stations at public entrances, service markers are placed at two metre intervals, we installed a temporary traffic signal at City Hall to assist with client wait times, and we limit our operations staff to one person per vehicle. Our parks, public washrooms, public handwashing stations all remain open. We have created an Ambassador team of staff, using otherwise laid off recreation staff, who circulate in our parks on weekends to monitor and politely encourage social distancing and gatherings limited to family and household members. Our Ambassadors monitor tennis courts, basketball courts, the skateboard park, our beaches and picnic areas. Our commitment is to a safe, healthy recreation experience within the guidelines set by Dr. Henry.

We have worked with and sincerely appreciate the support of BC Housing to provide additional, safe shelter and food for those who are homeless.

Our City is ready to support a gradual and managed return to a more normal social and business environment. I concur with your comment last week that the return will not be a, “flick of a switch,” and appreciate your government’s, “methodical approach,” in order to avoid the second wave that Dr. Henry references and is widely recognized by the scientific community.

As Minister Fleming noted, we have the strategic advantage of rebuilding our services based on, “experience,” learned from New Zealand and other successful approaches.

Like many, our Council and business community are anxious to enter the recovery phase, e.g., expanding the types of businesses that can open successfully, allowing personal services under strict directions and opening adjacent (pseudo-municipal) provincial parks to day use only. We look forward to the direction of your government, as laid out in a business and social recovery plan which we understand you will release later this week.

I concur with Minister Dix and Dr. Henry. We do not want to see a significant second wave of COVID-19 and lose all the gains that we have made collectively.

I appreciate your commitment to a process premised on striking confidence in consumers and workers as we move into business and economic recovery, together.

Sincerely,

Victor I. Cumming

Mayor, City of Vernon

READ MORE: Be prepared: City of Vernon

READ MORE: COVID-19: Coldstream municipal office looks to reopen


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