The City of Port Alberni has closed all its facilities until further notice.
“We’re going to close all our city facilities at the end of business operations today until further notice,” CAO Tim Pley said late Monday afternoon (March 16, 2020).
“It’s for two reasons. The first one is to comply with the federal and provincial recommendations of people gathering together.”
The provincial government on Monday banned gatherings of more than 50 people. This is a much smaller number than the original ban of 250. “With the threshold now being 50, we’re taking that proactive step to protect users and closing the facilities. Following best advice it’s a prudent thing to do,” Pley said.
City hall and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District administration building will no longer be open to the public until further notice. Both offices will remain open for business via telephone, e-mail or online services.
The Alberni Valley Landfill and West Coast Landfill are asking residents to use debit or credit cards to limit cash handling. Both will remain open for now, and curbside garbage pickup service will continue.
The city will be isolating staff from having to deal with the public “so the staff may be able to continue providing these services we all depend on,” Pley said.
“The length of this current situation, we’re not sure how long that will be. The city needs to be able to provide services throughout that period.”
Staff members will practice “social distancing”—limiting personal contact—as much as possible. There will be no unnecessary meetings. Utility staff—principally those dealing with water and sewer issues—will be protected. The fire hall won’t be open to the public as the fire department also takes COVID-19 precautions.
“We don’t take this lightly, closing these facilities to the public,” Pley said. “It’s vital to keep services available to people. It was a decision recommended by the Emergency Operations Centre and supported by the city.”
As of Monday, March 16 there were eight cases of COVID-19 reported in the Island Health region. That number was expected to change by the time the AV News’ print edition went to press.
To inquire about specific services, call the City of Port Alberni at 250-723-2146 or go online to their website at www.portalberni.ca for notices. For the ACRD, call 250-720-2700 or www.acrd.bc.ca for the staff list.
For any health-related questions, residents are requested to contact HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1 if they may have been exposed to COVID-19. Do not go to a doctors’ office or emergency room before calling ahead.