District of Squamish lays out operational plan for coming weeks

In the ongoing response to COVID-19, the District of Squamish has implemented a series of operational changes to respond to the emergent situation and plan for the upcoming weeks.

Council Meetings

District of Squamish Council continues to meet as required in order to move business forward. 

  • “Regular Business Meetings” for April are being replaced with “Special Meetings”. This will allow for greater flexibility in scheduling and holding meetings and Council will be taking up the new ability granted by the Province to hold meetings entirely electronically to protect our staff and council and adhere to physical distancing recommendations. 
  • Council has committed to ensuring that decisions which require, by legislation or bylaw, public participation will not move forward to a Public Hearing in order to ensure that the community continues to have every opportunity to participate in the public process. As always, the public is encouraged to be aware of what is on the Council Agenda and watch the meeting live-streamed on the District website, or at a later time from the meeting archive.  At this time, there will be no public attendance in the Council Chamber, and the District is committed to keeping to agenda items where feedback can be received by correspondence/email without any hearings or in-person participation. Contact council@squamish.ca or planning@squamish.ca. 
  • Options for expanded on-line public engagement opportunities are being explored for various projects. 

“It’s important for us to keep meeting in a safe manner so that we can continue to support our staff and the community with decision-making surrounding COVID-19, and ensure we are looking longer-term to keep the business of the community moving forward,” says District of Squamish Mayor, Karen Elliott.

 

District of Squamish Services

The District has adapted over the last two weeks to ensure the continued delivery of essential services while maintaining the health and safety of employees and the public, and supporting efforts to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the community. All departments have adapted to physical distancing requirements. A number of new policies are now in place including a Work From Home Policy, leaving a limited number of employees working at a safe distance within the same facility, such as Municipal Hall. 

Public Works continues to provide essential services relating to operation of the wastewater treatment plant, water delivery infrastructure, roads and drainage and other important services wherever they can be performed safely.

Engineering, Community Planning and Building services, Communications, Legislative Services, Financial Operations, Real Estate, Economic Development, Arts and Culture, Human Resources and Information Technology services continue with some adaptations, and with additional safeguards in place for any transfer of physical documents or on-site inspections.

Capital projects are being assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Bylaw staff continue to support the community’s bylaw complaints and are prioritizing those that are urgent in nature. Non-urgent or nuisance complaints may not be followed up on until COVID-19 transmission concerns have decreased. Bylaw officers and Squamish RCMP are working to support the Public Health Officer’s physical distancing recommendations through public education and proactive patrols – Bylaw staff are primarily focussed on liaising with businesses to ensure that social distancing measures, or ordered closures are in place. The District is posting signage across the community and through social media to support physical distancing measures. 

First responders including Squamish Fire Rescue and Squamish RCMP continue to support the community with added protocols regarding personal protective equipment.

The District is taking measures to avoid lay-offs of employees where possible and has developed a COVID-19-specific program that is working to redeploy regular employees. Some employees are also choosing unpaid leaves of absence or utilizing vacation or banked time. Redeployment efforts will focus on areas of the organization where increased demands are being felt due to staff who may be off work due to illness or isolation, where additional needs have been created due to the new normal, or where work can be focussed on areas where there is often not sufficient capacity in the normal course of events. The District is also working to redeploy staff to support key essential service non-profit agencies including the Squamish Food Bank, Helping Hands and the Better At Home Seniors Program who are facing staff shortages and increased demand.  

“We continue to respond daily to the urgent response to COVID-19 on behalf of the community, while safeguarding the organization for the current and longer-term provision of community services,” says Linda Glenday, Chief Administrative Officer. “By redeploying staff we are able to build resiliency into the team so that we can continue to respond more nimbly to the ever-evolving situation.”

Operations are being continually re-evaluated in light of new information, orders and recommendations from the Province of British Columbia.

The public can view service modifications on our website. The District of Squamish can be contacted by phone at 604-892-5217 or info@squamish.ca.

March 27, 2020

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