The members of Grand Forks City Council have gathered via electronic meeting to discuss some of the current priorities facing the community.

Effective Wednesday, March 25, playgrounds and recreation sites including tennis courts will be closed to the public. Open green spaces are closed for group activities but will remain accessible if residents practice social distancing as recommended by the Provincial Health Officer. The Municipal Campground at City Park will remain closed until further notice.

The Fire Hall and Public Works Yard have been closed to the public since last week. Effective tomorrow, City Hall will also be closed to the public. Some staff will still be available to assist residents by telephone and e-mail. Work plans are being set to permit some staff to work remotely where possible, and to rotate both inside and outside staff to ensure that essential services can be provided with minimal disruption.

Security patrols will be increased to summer levels effective immediately, ensuring that eyes are on activities around town while business presence may be reduced. All levels of government continue to work together to ensure public health and safety. The province has requested that municipalities utilize their local bylaw enforcement to assist with ensuring compliance with Provincial Health orders.

The province is not currently recommending declarations of “State of Local Emergency”. Municipalities have been advised to follow provincial recommendations and orders which will be expanded or amended as needed.

Council are very aware of financial hardships being experienced by business owners and employees during the economic slowdown the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered. They have asked staff to review utility and tax billing. The current utility billing cycle is due April 2, 2020, but staff are looking at options for residents who are forced to delay payments. Property taxes, though collected by the City, are subject to timelines set by the Provincial Government and Grand Forks will adapt to any deadline adjustments made by the province.

Council and staff are making efforts to follow recommended guidelines regarding self-isolation and social distancing and encourage all residents to do the same. Council commends local businesses that are adapting their work to follow these guidelines, including actions to limit the size of crowds gathering and provisions for take-away and delivery of goods and services.

Wastewater crews have noticed an increase in problems with pumps due to residents flushing disinfectant wipes, rubber gloves, and other products which are not intended to be disposed of into the sewer system. They ask that residents please dispose of these items in the trash rather than flushing them.