The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District and City of Port Alberni have released a joint COVID-19 Path to Recovery Plan “to promote physical, social and mental well-being, guide the reopening of businesses and workspaces, restart community engagement.”
The 16-page document outlines ways the region will rebuild the economy while keeping the health and safety of residents in the forefront.
Mayor Sharie Minions unveiled the recovery plan during a live COVID-19 update on Facebook on Friday, May 8.
Minions and the rest of the joint city and ACRD Emergency Operations Centre caution that the plan is a working document “that is responsive to developing circumstances within the region.” They will be taking direction from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry “and will alter our intended course when necessary to ensure the safety of our residents.”
“Our ‘new normal’ will be guided by necessary precautions to keep residents safe and include provincially recommended health practices that will remain in effect for the months ahead.”
The phasing in of business and services will follow the provincial model, Minions said. While provincial parks are due to open for day use on May 14, and local trails remain open, city and regional playgrounds and facilities will stay closed for now. Only small gatherings of two to six people are appropriate, she said, and physical distancing is still important.
“We’re still very much in this,” Minions said. “We really need to remain vigilant.”
While the past few weeks the Emergency Operations Centre has been responding to the coronavirus pandemic, the next few weeks will focus on recovery.
The plan has three main goals: to promote the health and financial well-being of residents; to facilitate business continuity and resiliency; and to learn from the organizational response to the pandemic “to better prepare for a similar event in the future.”
The plan includes the implementation of a COVID-19 community recovery team, with proposed membership crossing a broad spectrum of government organizations and community stakeholders in the region.
Tourism’s important—but not right now
Jolleen Dick, an Indigenous tourism specialist with Tourism Vancouver Island, asked if the City and ACRD would stand united with the West Coast in terms of asking people to stay away a little longer. Minions said while tourism is building up as part of the local economy, it’s important to support all the wishes of ACRD members, including the First Nations that have closed their communities to the public.
“We are echoing the messages of all of our stakeholders, which is please stay home a little longer,” she said.
Pool won’t reopen until September
A frequent question the city is hearing is “when will the pool reopen,” Minions said. The quick answer is not until September.
“We had to make a best guess…we had to budget accordingly because the pool is an expensive service for the City of Port Alberni to run,” she explained.
The city budgeted for a full closure until mid-September, which would take them past the scheduled summer maintenance.
The full COVID-19 update: A Path to Recovery document is available for viewing on the city’s website, www.portalberni.ca under the News and Announcments link at https://www.portalberni.ca/news/may-8-2020-1052am/acrd-city-covid-19-update-path-recovery.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.