Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says the city must work with the province to move forward as some restrictions put in place during the pandemic begin to lift.
In his weekly update on COVID-19, Stewart said that many of the rules that govern the city’s businesses are set by the province, including services such as alcoholic beverages.
“Although we can, for example, open our sidewalks or food service lanes, we need to work closely with our provincial partners to make sure everything can go smoothly,” he said.
Restaurants were to close in March, unless they were able to offer take-out or delivery, and bars and clubs were also ordered to close under a provincial health order in response to the pandemic. In a briefing on Wednesday, the province said spaces like nightclubs will likely be closed for a while and described them as a “complicated consideration”.
Stewart said he will have a roundtable with industry leaders, health officials and club owners, and wants to hear from sectors with more “uncertain” timelines. He added that as changes are made to allow certain areas to reopen gradually, everyone will have to adapt.
“As we start conversations and make changes that allow sectors to reopen, we will all have to be flexible,” he said, adding that some companies have already innovated by making more deliveries, starting collections from sidewalk, online sales or online streaming classes or services. .
“Residents of Vancouver will also have to be flexible,” he said. “We may have to become more comfortable with using public spaces in different ways or with companies with longer hours so that we can manage customer loads.”
Stewart added that initial comments from industry round tables prompted him to introduce a motion which, if passed, would help speed up the application process to build more rental and supportive housing which he says him, are “greatly” needed in Vancouver.
“It has been difficult and it will continue to be difficult,” said Stewart. “This is why it is so important that we are so good to each other. “
When could outdoor facilities reopen?
Now that the province has released its phased reopening plan, the city said it is now evaluating its own options based on its ability to maintain the safety of its personnel, as well as to assess public appetite.
“If we open an indoor pool and no one wants to come, it would be a mistake, so we’re going to have to assess that,” said Stewart. “Nor does it make economic sense if we open facilities that people are not comfortable using. “
Stewart said the city will conduct a series of public opinion research to ask people how comfortable they are to return to public and private sector facilities and added that the outdoor facilities are likely to be open first, followed by other leisure centers. The city has already decided to open three of its golf courses, as well as the VanDusen botanical garden.
“Indoor facilities are more delicate due to the need for social distance and cleaning,” he said. “But there will be announcements coming … It won’t be all of a sudden. We are going to do it one by one as these operational decisions are made. “
While Stewart said he recognizes that Vancouverites lack city services, he stressed the need to be cautious and follow orders from public health officials.
“We have to realize that we are a center of the region. Stanley Park and the seawall are for everyone, as well as regional parks, ”he said. “If we can’t handle big floods of people, we need to make sure that we adjust our services to make sure everyone is safe. “