Mayor Don Scott is looking to shut down non-essential services and have residents stay at home, if able, to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
He brought forward a motion at Wood Buffalo council’s meeting on Tuesday outlining 17 potential measures to help limit the spread across Wood Buffalo.
- That we immediately develop a shelter in place guideline limiting residents to stay in their homes unless accessing essential services; That we direct residents to shelter in place until further notice; That administration communicate what shelter in place entails as determined by the [Chief Administrative Officer] and [Director of Emergency Management];
- That only essential services should remain open in the region as determined by the interim CAO and DEM with the exception of any service that can be provided through electronic means;
- That administration work with industry to ensure only essential employees are residing in camps and that all camps are strictly adhering to AHS guidelines;
- That we task administration with continuing obtaining critical supplies including protective equipment including N95 masks for the anticipated duration of the emergency;
- That we ask AHS to immediately publicly disclose the number of positive cases in Wood Buffalo and how many are individuals who reside in work camps;
- That we direct all essential businesses that remain open that they must comply with AHS guidelines;
- That we aggressively communicate the Vulnerable Person Registry in the region and ensure it is updated to ensure those requiring assistance receive it;
- That we use all possible enforcement powers available to protect the community when appropriate and impose such sanctions as are within our jurisdiction for non-compliance;
- That we set up regular calls with our rural and indigenous communities to determine what is needed on a go-forward basis to address the pandemic;
- That we encourage the residents of Wood Buffalo to stay connected through technology and identify individuals who are alone, in distress or may need assistance;
- That administration come forward with a recommendation specific to deferring residential property taxes;
- That we encourage the provincial government to look at measures that will assist both commercial renters and residential renters;
- That residential utility bills for residents be deferred until the emergency ends;
- That we request the federal and provincial governments to set up an aggressive and robust program to support businesses;
- That we communicate that anyone visiting the urban service area or a rural community must self isolate for 14 days, whether they arrive by road or air;
- That we reduce transit services and waive fees for transit until further notice with such exceptions as the interim CAO and DEM determine necessary;
- That the Interim Chief Administrative Officer and the Director of Emergency Management address those matters raised by the leadership of the indigenous and rural communities to address the pandemic in an expeditious manner;
Ontario and Quebec are forcing non-essential services to shut down, however, Alberta has not taken this step.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is also much higher in both provinces, sitting at 572 and 1,013 respectively. Alberta currently has 358 confirmed cases.
Scott Davis, Director of Emergency Management for the RMWB, notes no other community in Canada, to his knowledge, has undertaken this measure for themselves.
He also believes the GoA should make this decision for every community.
However, Mayor Scott says he doesn’t want to wait around for the province to make this decision.
“I want to protect our residents and we will better protect our region to bounce back.”
He was also hoping to discuss the motion on Tuesday, however, council voted against waiving the needed timeframe for a notice of motion to be debated.
Councillors Verna Murphy, Phil Meagher, Sheila Lalonde, Jeff Peddle, Bruce Inglis, and Claris Voyageur voted against.
Murphy says residents need more time to review all the information.
If council were to pass the motion immediately, she believes this would have caused unnecessary panic across the region.
“This fear-mongering and pandering is disgusting at this time.”
As of right now, the motion is scheduled to be debated on April 14.