During the pandemic, the City of Nanaimo is focused on keeping critical services running without interruption. This is a province-led emergency and the City is adhering to the Provincial health Orders. Therefore, many safety measures and changes have been implemented to ensure compliance. All departments have increased cleaning and sanitization efforts, creating alternate work schedules when applicable and conducting meetings through various online platforms. Although facilities are closed for face-to-face interaction, they are still open for business. Updates from each department were presented at a Special Council Meeting held on April 1, 2020:
RCMP - Is fully staffed and responding to calls and inquires. The RCMP is encouraging residents to lock their doors as they are noting an increase in commercial and residential break and enters and a more aggressive homeless population. We encourage you to watch a public service message from the Officer in Charge, Supt. Cameron Miller.
Nanaimo Fire Rescue – have suspended outdoor burning permits early this year to reduce potential breathing implications for those affected by the COVID-19. The department has limited training and moved to an online model. Routine business fire inspections and station tours are on hold for now, however smoke detector installations continue as fire safety is still a top priority. They have received much community support and are grateful for that and would like to encourage those wanting to donate to choose a charity that could benefit during this difficult time.
Public Works – main priority is to keep critical services running without interruption and to protect the health of staff and the City’s critical infrastructure. There are many moving parts working hard behind the scenes to ensure our drinking water is flowing, garbage is picked up, storm drains are cleared, transportation routes remain safe and the machines and vehicles in the City’s fleet are maintained.
Parks, Recreation & Culture – have cancelled all programs and rentals up to May 1, 2020. As more information becomes available, they will re-assess and be in touch with bookings beyond that date. Recreation Coordinators have launched innovative online programs to keep residents active and engaged while in isolation. Increased signage has been posted to educate and remind the public of closures and adhering to public health orders of no gatherings and keeping a physical distance of 6 feet or more.
Development Services – are in a good place for doing business online thanks to the functions put in place before COVID-19. They are taking advantage of online tools with developers and consultants to ensure meetings continue while keeping staff and the public safe. They are looking into online options for public hearings and other ways of gathering public input. With 14 development permits issued in the 1st quarter, they are seeing most projects move forward, just with fewer people on job sites.
Bylaws – is a key partner in ensuring the community is complying to public health orders in place. They are minimizing in-person contact as much as possible but responding to inquiries as they come in. Bylaw Officers reported that parking revenues were down and that they are also noting heightened tension and anxiety levels on the streets.
Corporate Services – is focusing on expense tracking, weekly calls with key stakeholders and advance planning as part of the Emergency Coordination Centre. The 2019 auditing is complete and financial services such as purchasing, reporting and accounting continue operating as scheduled.
Information Technology - has deployed new applications, leased hardware and acquired additional licenses so staff can work from home wherever possible. They have enabled distance collaboration platforms and virtual switchboards to ensure the City is operating smoothly and departments are responding to community needs.
Human Resources – are addressing new health and safety concerns and the department is communicating closely with WorkSafe BC and CUPE. Most training has been paused, but respirator fit testing has accelerated for operational staff, to enhance protection against COVID-19.
Communications – is working closely with the Emergency Coordination Centre to communicate essential messaging around COVID-19. They created and published a COVID-19 Informational Page as well as COVID-19 FAQ Page to help keep residents informed with regular updates. The team continues to provide regular social media updates and is working on launching a public engagement page dedicated to COVID-19.
Legislative Services – continue to respond to Freedom of Information requests, liability claims, insurance work and meeting support for Council. New orders were issued last week around COVID-19 and it was suggested that Council could conduct regular Council meetings while restricting unrelated delegations at this time. The department is considering conducting Special Council meetings through online platforms such as Zoom or Facebook Live to limit the need for in-person meetings, while still maintaining quorum.
The City will continue to adapt and follow the most up-to-date guidelines provided by the Provincial Health Officer. If you are looking for ways to connect with the City online, please visit the City Services tab.
Please remember what Dr. Bonnie Henry our Provincial Health Officer said, “This is our time to be kind, be calm and be safe.”