City of Kelowna - COVID-19 (Coronavirus) response

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We take COVID-19 (Coronavirus) seriously and are following the direction of the Provincial Health Ministry to deal with the COVID-19 situation in British Columbia. Our top priority is the health, safety, and well-being of the public and our employees. We are focusing on maintaining essential services that our citizens rely upon. We agree with the health experts’ direction to exercise an abundance of caution in dealing with this virus, so that we can curb its spread in our community.

What the City is doing
City facilities
  • City Hall is closed to the public, except by appointment. Please call 250-469-8500.
  • City Council meetings and public hearings will be streamed online starting April 6 at kelowna.ca/council. Direct links to the live video feed will be tweeted from the City’s Twitter channel (@CityofKelowna) prior to the start of the meeting. 
  • Development Services and Building Permits is closed to the public, except by appointment. Please call 250-469-8960 or email developmentservicesinfo@kelowna.ca.
  • Planning Services is closed to the public, except by appointment. Please call 250-469-8626 or email planninginfo@kelowna.ca.
  • Business Licensing is closed to the public, except by appointment. Please call 250-469-8617
  • Bylaw Services office is closed to the public, except by appointment. Please call 250-469-8686.
  • All fire halls are closed to the public. Fire Hall 1 (Enterprise) will be open for permits, by appointment only. Please call 250-469-8801.
  • City yards is closed to the public, except by appointment. Please call 250-469-8600.
  • Human Resources is closed to the public, except by appointment. Please call 250-469-8528.
  • Purchasing is closed to the public, except by appointment. Please call 250-469-8530 or email purchasing@kelowna.ca.
  • Parks office is closed to the public, except by appointment. Please call 250-469-8503.
  • Infrastructure is closed to the public, except by appointment. Please call 250-469-8559.
  • Wastewater treatment plant is closed to the public.
  • Memorial Park Cemetery office is closed to the public, except by appointment. Please call 250-862-5518. The park remains open between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. seven days a week.
Recreation and cultural facility closures
  • Parkinson Recreation Centre
  • Kelowna Community Theatre
  • Black Box Theatre
  • Rutland Arena
  • Memorial Arena
  • Rutland Activity Centre
  • Parkinson Activity Centre
  • Okanagan Mission Activity Centre
  • Kinsmen Fieldhouse Hall
  • Kinsmen Media Centre
Compliances

At the end of March the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued a series of ministerial orders to ensure a coordinated response to COVID-19 across all levels of government for the duration of the provincial emergency. Key among these for municipalities was enabling municipal bylaw officers to support enforcement of the provincial health officer’s orders for business closures and gatherings under the Public Health Act.

Bylaw Enforcement officers will assist Interior Health by notifying businesses and members of the public who may be contravening the Public Health Orders. They can also issue formal warnings when warranted and will contact Interior Health when ongoing non-compliance is occurring. Officers will also accompany Health Officers to deliver orders or tickets to those who refuse to comply with public health orders, if that’s needed. 

Bylaw Services are not expected to monitor individual behaviour or have a role in situations regarding individuals and self-isolation.  Bylaw Services will not address complaints against individuals who are not self-isolating. 

Public can report non-compliance to the Public Health Orders by a business or members of the public by calling 250-469-8686 between 6 a.m. and midnight or by emailing bylaw@kelowna.ca. Significant and urgent concerns that arise beyond these hours can be directed to the RCMP non-emergency line, 250-762-3300.

Additional measures
  • All playgrounds and outdoor sport facilities in Kelowna are closed - that includes tennis courts, outdoor exercise equipment, pickleball courts, basketball courts, Kasugai Gardens and other places where groups gather. Open spaces (including the Apple Bowl Stadium & Mission Artificial Turf) and walkways will remain open for casual use only, however, users of these spaces are reminded to follow provincial health directives and practice safe distancing.
    • The Apex Trail at Knox Mountain Park is now one-way only until further notice. Park users can use the Apex Trail to travel up the mountain and Knox Mountain Drive to go back down. Directional signage will be in place to guide park users.
  • The utility department is deferring any non-urgent, indoor residential water meter repairs and replacements until further notice. 
    • This policy does not apply to new construction meter installations, actively leaking water meteres, commercial buildings, or any oudoot meter services. Visit the City utility billing page for more information. 
  • Working with event organizers and accepting cancellations or postponements of gatherings with over 50 people in attendance
  • Kelowna International Airport is open as usual. However, we continue to assess public health direction as new information becomes available. If you’re travelling or welcoming visitors, always check ylw.kelowna.ca for updated information
  • Maintaining essential services and operations and monitoring those services to determine if further actions are needed in the days and weeks ahead.
Video updates from Mayor Basran
April 3

A thank you to our frontline workers and update from Mayor Basran. 

March 30

I’ll get to a few points in a minute about what the City is doing to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the effects it’s having on our community, but I want to start by thanking you for helping to keep our community informed.

Information is vitally important right now, and we appreciate you getting the word out to people about what measures are being taken to limit the spread of the virus and how people need to behave.

It gets repetitive, I know, but the BC Centre for Disease Control says the best ways to prevent transmission of the virus are to isolate yourself if you’re sick, practice social distancing and to wash your hands often.  While most of our citizens are doing their part unfortunately, we are still seeing examples of those who are not.

There are many angles to this story, but the two dominant points of focus for local government at this point are the health risk and the economic fallout.

I’m going to start today on the economic front this time, since we have a few new things to pass along.

The City’s economic approach during this pandemic is two pronged – tighten our belts and be a catalyst for economic recovery.

Every dollar we spend has a direct economic impact in our community. We're aware that anything we cancel or postpone has an impact on someone or some business locally.

That said, our immediate focus is on costs reductions considering revenue is projected to decrease. Effective immediately staff have been directed to reduce operating budgets through the following measures:

  • Reduce base budgets for non-essential and new spending – this includes things like professional consulting, materials and supplies, purchasing & contract services along with other specific area reductions. 
  • Hold on hiring except for critical positions approved by City Manager; currently approximately 90 positions are being held vacant and 64 part-time positions were laid off
  • Hold on all non-essential travel and training for staff
  • Review capital projects to look at potential deferrals
  • Minimize capital expansion at the Kelowna International Airport and reduce operations reflective of current airline traffic

In addition, City Council has directed staff to review the provisional budget presented to Council in December 2019 and look at what might be eliminated or deferred. Council’s expectation is the final budget, slated to be presented to Council on April 27, will look different than the one approved in late 2019. Local governments cannot run a deficit and must continue to provide many essential services the community relies on including but not limited to police services, fire, water, roads and transportation and solid waste.

We are also working on an approach to coordinate efforts of Central Okanagan business community, both public and private, to overcome the immediate economic challenges of the pandemic and to proactively support and reenergize the impacted sectors of our economy. 

We are encouraged that the measures senior levels of government have taken to date and their signal that more announcements are a head will help to mitigate the impact to our citizens and businesses.

We’ll have more detail on the regional approach in the days ahead as that plan comes together.

On the public health front, we are following Dr. Bonnie Henry’s orders in for City operations – closing buildings to the public, keeping a safe physical distance, working from home, enhancing remote services and maintaining clean workplaces.

City staff have been in conversations with their provincial counterparts in light of the new provincial order announcement on Friday. In general, the City will comply with whatever the province requires, and in fact is already doing much of what was announced.

For now, the provincial order mandates local Bylaw Enforcement Officers to act as educators to anyone not complying with the B.C. Medical Health Officer’s orders for things like physical distancing in parks or businesses. They can also report situations of continued non-compliance to Provincial public health authorities for their enforcement if needed.  

In Kelowna, the RCMP have been handling the majority of these complaints as they have both the jurisdiction and the authority to do so. The City is working with the RCMP to assume the first response duties, and is working with Interior Health to ensure clear, consistent and responsive processes are is in place.

We have also worked with our regional government neighbours to formulate a list of possible public buildings that might be needed for a variety of uses if the pandemic overwhelms existing services, such as food warehouses, care homes, isolation areas and hospitals.

The Province’s suspension of local states of emergencies for municipalities in B.C. aligns with the City's decision not to declare one. The provincial state of emergency provides all the necessary powers to address the immediate needs in our community for safety and compliance with the Medical Health Officer's orders.

In closing I want to thank our front-line workers, City Staff and all those who continue to provide services essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning through this unprecedented time. We will get through this together, and we will recover together.

March 27

March 23

A lot has happened in ways that many of us couldn’t have even imagined just one week ago.  We are living in uncertain and unprecedented times. With the news reports every day about the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic in B.C., it’s natural to feel concerned… for our health, for our economy and for our society. 

I want to thank all healthcare providers, senior home care staff, first responders and everyone else on the frontlines of this battle who are providing essential services. These include everything from the truck drivers and grocery store employees who keep our food supply chain functioning, to the childcare and elder care workers who allow health care professionals and other essential service workers to do their job.

I know there are many people in our community that have to go to their places work right now. People who work in the hospitals, medical centres, grocery stores, first responders, child care workers, janitorial staff and many of our City employees. I want every one of them to know that they have our sincere gratitude and appreciation.

We will be placing hearts on the front of the City Hall as symbols of our thanks to all of those front line workers who have to continue to leave their homes to go to work and do not have the ability to work from home or take time off. I would encourage anyone to do the same on the front windows and doors so that our neighbours driving past our homes know they have our support.

Your vigilance, compassion, service and courage are inspiring and appreciated by City Council, City staff and the citizens of Kelowna.

First and foremost, I want to urge everyone to listen to the regular updates from B.C.’s Medical Health Officer and follow her advice – social distancing, hand washing, stay home if you’re sick and avoiding unnecessary travel around our community. 

These measure are being taken to save lives – particularly the lives of the most vulnerable citizens… our parents and grandparents, people with compromised immune systems and respiratory ailments. However, as we’ve seen from examples around the world, no one is immune.

Of course, there are serious consequences of these unprecedented, necessary measures… And more measures might be coming… But these measures give us our best chance to avoid the long-term repercussions of not doing everything we can now to minimize the spread of the virus.

We have been asked why we haven’t issued a local state of emergency. The answer is that the broad powers granted under the provincial state of emergency are addressing the immediate needs in our community for safety and compliance with the Medical Health Officer’s orders.

I fully endorse the advice on public health matters announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C’s Medical Health Officer.

I am also happy to keep you up-to-date about information on how the City of Kelowna is following those medical health orders and recommendations to safeguard our employees and our citizens’ health.

Numerous city-owned facilities and buildings are closed to the public and on Friday we started to offer City services remotely and by appointment only in the best interests of the public and staff.

Kelowna International Airport, Glenmore Landfill and RCMP Police Services front counter remain open to the public, with precautionary measures in place to protect staff, and the City Yards Warehouse remains open for deliveries only. Those City staff who can work from home are now doing so to maximize social distancing.

Measures have also been taken to ensure social distancing at Council meetings and to encourage people to use online services.

The April 7 public hearing is cancelled.

Effective immediately, all 81 City playground and all outside exercise facilities are closed – that includes tennis courts, Pickleball courts, basketball courts and other places where groups gather.

For now, open spaces and walkways will remain open, but should users of these space not practice safe distancing, we will be forced to take further action.

This also applies to businesses that have been ordered closed. Further action will be taken for those that are not compliant with the provincial Medical Health Officer’s order. 

Given the serious economic consequences of this pandemic, the City is looking into what we can do to ease the financial strain on businesses and residents.

We will report out on any assistance we can provide when that’s in place.

For now, transit fares will be waived for the next 30 days as passengers use rear-door boarding, and senior staff have been asked to look at ways to reduce the City’s 2020 budget … and this afternoon Council will be reviewing proposed parking fee reductions.

The province has jurisdiction over property tax deferrals and the City of Kelowna expressed our support to the Province last week for the expansion of deferrals. 

The federal and provincial governments have devoted billions of dollars to help employers and employees to weather this storm. The best provincial source for information about business support is gov.bc.ca.

The federal Parliament is reconvening tomorrow to discuss getting its economic stimulus package into place. 

Last week, the federal government announced $27 million in emergency aid for workers and $55 billion in tax deferrals. They are also working to retool industry to ensure hospitals have what they need.

Among the proposals is a Business Credit Availability Program to support financing in the private sector through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada. Visit bdc.ca to get the details on these programs and others to help businesses.

For people whose employment is interrupted, visit Canada.ca to learn more about the no-wait period to receive Employment Insurance benefits if you’re laid off due to this pandemic.

Late last week the federal government clarified temporary foreign workers will be allowed to enter Canada and isolate themselves for 14 days, which is vital to our agricultural community.

And this morning the government announced another $5 billion in lending capacity through Farm Credit Canada.

The province announced this weekend it is preparing to enact rent and eviction protection measures, making sure those dovetail with how the federal government is responding on this issue.

We are told that these extraordinary measures are just the beginning and there will be more announcements by senior levels of government in the coming days to protect Canadians. In the meantime, we encourage you to continue to support local businesses – many of which now have on-line options.

The City’s critical response team has been working for several weeks and continues to put numerous changes into action every day. Contingency planning is in place to ensure essential services can be maintained.

And we are working collaboratively with our regional partners to ensure we are ready to support needs that arise as this situation evolves.

Given the fluidity of this situation I encourage you to follow federal and provincial communications channels that have the most up-to-date information. The City of Kelowna will continue to partner with our local media and use our online and social media channels to keep you up to date on City business as related to this fast-moving pandemic.

In closing, I repeat… we need everyone to follow the rules the B.C. Medical Health Officer has in place to keep everyone safe.

If we follow those directions, we have a great chance to save lives in our community… and along the way, we can reconnect with what it means to be a good neighbour and a good citizen. Help those who need it… be considerate to others around us… express gratitude to others who are serving our community. Together we will get through this.

March 17

 

Good afternoon. We have some information today about City operations related to the COVID-19 pandemic that I thought was best to tell you about in person, so thank you for coming.

We’ve taken the decision today to close 10 City facilities as of the end of today following the direction of B.C.’s medical health authorities yesterday to prohibit gatherings of 50 or more people.  Our top priority remains the health and safety of our employees and public and have and will continue to follow the advice of the medical health officer. Staff, Council and I are very aware this will affect many people in many ways however we all need to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 to lessen the impact on our healthcare system.

We advised our staff and contractors about the need to close facilities in the best interest of public safety. We have done that over the course of last night and this morning. Based on the B.C. medical health officer’s direction yesterday as so many others have we decided it was best to err on the side of caution and close 10 City facilities that provide programs or gathering spaces for members of the public.

We are dealing with a rapidly changing situation that even public health professionals find challenging to keep up with. This is new territory for everyone and we continue to listen to the direction of the B.C. medical health officer and take local action to balance the public’s best interests. 

We are mindful of the impact on the livelihood of people who provide these programs and services, but our ultimate responsibility needs to be focused on what we must do to preserve public safety.

That’s why we are closing the following City facilities until further notice:

  • Parkinson Recreation Centre
  • Kelowna Community Theatre
  • Black Box Theatre
  • Rutland Arena
  • Memorial Arena
  • Rutland Activity Centre
  • Parkinson Activity Centre
  • Okanagan Mission Activity Centre
  • Kinsmen Fieldhouse Hall
  • Kinsmen Media Centre

We will maintain essential services and other operations and we will continue to monitor those services and be prepared to react if that’s needed in the days and weeks ahead.

I urge everyone to take the medical health professionals’ advice seriously, and practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands often.

As I said yesterday, these are anxious and difficult times. But Kelowna has seen many difficult times before and I believe we can rise to the occasion and again show our best selves in the face of adversity.

I want to thank the City’s staff for working diligently to manage operations and keep people safe and informed about what our actions are to curb the spread of the virus.

- Mayor Basran to media on March 17, 2020

March 16

March 16, 2020 -
“I know there’s a lot of anxiety in our community and around the world about the COVID-19 virus.  I assure you our top priority is the health, safety, and well-being of the public and our employees.  We have – and will continue – to follow the advice of the BC medical health officer with regards to City services and facilities

“Recognizing the situation can change quickly – even hourly – the current message from B.C. health officials is that if we all take the necessary precautions now, we can minimize the effect on ourselves and our families and not overload our healthcare system.

“That’s the goal – flattening the curve, so that we have no spikes in the number of people needing urgent medical attention.

“That goal is behind every measure the City of Kelowna is taking right now, and it’s what I urge every organization to follow.

“I want to stay in my lane and not speak on behalf of the public health system, so I urge everyone to pay attention to the directions and recommendations from the medical health officers and the Ministry of Health. This is a very important point for everyone to take note of.

The latest direction from the medical health officer just a few hours ago concerns cancelling gatherings of more than 50 people, and we will work with our staff and contractors to comply with that order.

“The City has a 'Critical Incident Response Team' that takes actions like this based on the most up-to-date information from public health officials. Contingency planning is happening in case a large number of staff become ill or are self-isolating. These plans will maintain essential services such as water treatment, wastewater management and the emergency services our citizens rely on.

“So far, we’ve taken action on a number of provincial health orders and recommendations. Those actions include what I mentioned about gatherings of more than 50 people. We’re also requiring 14 days of self-isolation for staff returning to Canada from other countries, we’re encouraging staff and the public to use remote services where possible, and suspending all international business travel and non-essential domestic air travel for staff members.

“Health authorities and other levels of government are evaluating what next steps are needed every day, and the City will follow their lead. City facilities are remaining open at this time based on the direction of Dr. Bonnie Henry – the provincial health officer. Dr. Henry is encouraging social distancing, rigorous hygiene and self-isolation if you are feeling sick. We are encouraging all citizens to use remote options for City services if available.

“Enhanced screening measures have been in place YLW for a number of weeks for the safety of customers. Under the direction of Public Health Agency of Canada, those screening measures have been expanded and updated as the COVID-19 situation has evolved.

“Again, just hours ago, new orders were provided by the federal government about flights.

“Canada will be closing its borders to foreign travellers with limited exceptions for Canadian citizens. YLW operations will not be affected, as domestic flights and flights from the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean are permitted to continue at this time.

“Everyone can stay informed about the latest news on what’s happening at the airport by visiting the website, ylw.kelowna.ca. And stay informed about what the City is doing by visiting our website kelowna.ca.

“The main things I want to get across to our citizens are:

To be vigilant, but also remember the risk is low if you take the necessary precautions
To follow the advice of health care professionals about proper hygiene, social distancing, self-isolation if you’re sick, and to reconsider non-essential travel
And, finally, to take care of one another – be a good neighbour, a good colleague and be supportive of those who might need to isolate themselves in the weeks ahead

“I know our community will rise to the occasion like we have in other challenging times. And I thank everyone for their understanding and patience as some goods and services are disrupted in the short-term.”

What you can do

You can help prevent the spread of all viruses, including coronavirus, and other infectious illnesses with just a few simple habits:

  • washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • coughing or sneezing into your sleeve and not your hands
  • staying home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others
  • maintaining social distancing and avoiding large groups
Helpful resources

The public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available and residents are encouraged to stay up-to-date by regularly visiting these links:

If you are ill or feel like you may have been exposed to COVID-19, please call:

  • Government of Canada Information Line: 1-833-784-4397
  • HealthLink BC: 8-1-1
  • Kelowna Urgent & Primary Care Centre: 250-469-6985
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