Today, the Province made some significant announcements about the extraordinary powers they will be using under a state of provincial emergency to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and asked for support from local government. Since the beginning of this global health crisis, Chilliwack has worked diligently to closely follow directions from provincial and federal governments and we will continue to support their efforts.
Last week, the City of Chilliwack had already started creating an inventory of civic facilities that could be made available for pandemic response. I am happy that we were able to be proactive with our strategic emergency response planning and we will continue to work with the provincial government and health authority to work out any additional logistical details should the need arise.
We also learned that the Province is calling on local government bylaw enforcement officers to help ensure members of the public are adhering to provincial health orders. We are waiting for additional information from the Province and will deploy bylaw enforcement officers once we better understand what authority they will have to enforce orders. More details will be available on our website at chilliwack.com/covid19 once we have that information.
We have been getting a lot of calls about people not practicing social distancing, which is something we have been actively asking members of our community to practice. Today, Minister Farnworth made it clear that social distancing is currently a recommendation, but not a health order, which means it is not enforceable at this time. Even though it is not enforceable, I encourage everyone in Chilliwack to follow the Province’s social distancing recommendation for the safety of our community.
Yesterday we announced the discontinuation of our spring burning season. This was done to mitigate health concerns smoke can cause during the current health crisis. Today, the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has banned open burning effective immediately. I am proud that Chilliwack had already made the decision to cancel outdoor burning and the Ministry’s decision reaffirms Council’s proactive approach to public safety in Chilliwack.
I am also happy to learn that the Government of BC has added a new service to help seniors during this difficult time. If you are a senior in our community, you can dial 211 and be connected with someone seven days a week that can assist with the delivery of groceries or medication.
I encourage all residents to stay home if possible, respect social distancing and practice good hand hygiene. I would also like to say a special thank you to all front line workers. I hope you know how valued you are by everyone in Chilliwack.