It’s been a whirlwind week as the City of Delta continues to implement measures to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Civic officials declared a local state of emergency last week to enable Mayor George Harvie and Delta council to enact powers necessary to support the provincial health officer’s order to limit public gatherings and practice social distancing.
Following the closure already in place for recreation facilities and then city hall, all playground equipment, artificial turf fields, the Delta Nature Reserve boardwalk, public picnic shelters and sport courts are now closed as well as places like the Fred Gingell Park stairs.
School district playgrounds soon followed suit.
Bylaw officers have also been keeping an eye on businesses not adhering to the directives, having shut down a North Delta yoga studio last week.
Harvie also issued a letter directing local grocery stores to take action to ensure shoppers have access to vital supplies during the pandemic, including putting limits on certain items and granting exclusive hours to seniors.
Residents worried where they can get tested for the virus got some good news with the announcement the city and Fraser Health will establish a staging site at the former FHA health office in the Ladner civic precinct.
Harvie, who has been meeting senior civic and emergency officials regularly at an emergency operations centre at the new fire hall at Boundary Bay Airport, said the staging area is at a good location in that it’s within walking distance of the hospital should people need to go to the ER.
Fraser Health has said it’s asking people to avoid going to the Delta Hospital ER and other hospital emergency departments for novel coronavirus testing.
In an open letter this week, Harvie reiterated the need for social distancing, noting, “The global reality is that this virus will cause deaths in our city.”
The mayor, who along with senior officials began virtual town hall meetings last week, also requested the provincial government provide local governments the authority to extend payment deadlines for the collection of fees and taxes without any penalty.
The city also requested the province adjust requirements to qualify for the Property Tax Deferment Program to allow for broader participation and to consider any other measures that could alleviate the financial burden that many are facing during the crisis.
A special council meeting was held last week where council voted in favour of deferring the deadline for utility bill payments.
Council had another special meeting yesterday to pass a bylaw amendment to enhance staff ability to enforce orders directed by the provincial health officer, including the ability to issue tickets and fines.
"We are beyond the point of asking people nicely to comply with orders to protect public health. These additional enforcement measures will allow us to fine people who refuse to comply. I want to be clear: now is the time to stay home and help save lives," Harvie stated.
The mayor told the Optimist last Friday that 70 civic employees already were either in self-isolation because of potential exposure or sick and in quarantine.
Residents can visit the city’s website at delta.ca/coronavirus for updates on Delta’s response to COVID-19 as well as information on services the city is continuing to provide.