This COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all into unprecedented and uncharted situations.
I want to assure you that our City staff are doing everything they can to provide the services our business community and our residents deserve. We want to make sure all our staff are kept safe and have closed City Hall to the public and some employees are working from home. Those that are not, are practicing all the suggestions from the BC Public Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.
I want to thank our staff, our emergency responders, such as paramedics, fire department employees and local RCMP for their efforts. Also, a big thanks to our health care workers who are under a lot of stress and working diligently for all of us.
We have been receiving a lot of calls and correspondence demanding we do some things and asking us why we are not doing or enforcing some others. Most of these are under the jurisdiction of the provincial and Federal Governments and their respective Public Health Officers. We do have limited authority.
We must abide by the rules and directives these authorities provide. Complicating the issue is that we have no idea how long this is going to last and consequently cannot answer a lot of the questions we are receiving. This is not that we are ignoring these calls – we just simply do not have any answers currently.
The Emergency Operations Centre is doing a very good job coordinating all the efforts of everyone involved and keeping the public informed. You can receive daily updates on our website.
We have also set up an Economic Resiliency Task Force with several working groups. These groups have all the necessary stakeholders involved. The goal is to help our business community with the necessary information during the pandemic and establish a plan to help everyone get back to normal as quickly as possible after the pandemic. In the meantime, we ask for your patience and cooperation.
Last night (April 7) Council passed a bylaw regarding the payment of our utility accounts which were due April 30, 2020. We have extended the deadline for payment to June 30 and have waived the 2% late penalty charge to after June 30, 2020. This will provide relief for residents and businesses by allowing two additional months to make payment. The next utility bill will be mailed out at the end of July.
Council and staff are also drafting a bylaw to deal with the payment of property taxes and giving some relief. We are restricted by legislation as to what we can do. We will do what we can. We are also in daily contact with the Province encouraging them to possibly change the restrictions that are in place today. Hopefully they will announce something before the end of April.
Mayor of Cranbrook