Vancouver City Council declares local State of Emergency

VANCOUVER City Council voted on Thursday to declare a local State of Emergency as a result of COVID-19.

Declaring a State of Emergency allows City staff to take additional measures to ensure the City of Vancouver has the resources needed to maintain essential services and meet the demands of other agencies, including Vancouver Coastal Health.

These measures include:

* Acquiring or using land or personal property to prevent, respond to or alleviate the effects of the emergency, including the use of buildings to assist with the increased demands for healthcare, shelter and childcare

* Procuring on a first priority basis any clothing, equipment, medical supplies or other essential supplies required to cope with the emergency, for the duration of the emergency

* Restricting the use or occupancy of any premises within the City of Vancouver

Council also voted to amend the 2020 Community Service Grants and Renter Service Grants approvals to encompass the COVID-19 response.

Social services agencies in Vancouver are working very hard to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the people they support. This change will allow the community to respond to COVID-19 as quickly as possible. These organizations can now use the grant streams to support work within the community to mitigate or prevent the transmission of COVID-19, assist any service recipients who contract COVID-19, and protect the health of the employees and volunteers of these agencies.

“Today, with the advice of our senior staff and emergency management team, Council took swift action to ensure our City has all the tools it needs to keep Vancouver residents safe,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “By declaring a State of Emergency in the City of Vancouver, we are ensuring we have the tools we need to protect and house vulnerable residents, deploy medical supplies and equipment, and restrict the operations of any property in Vancouver. This will help our staff, many of whom are essential front-line workers, do their jobs safely. But we all need to do our part to help essential staff do their jobs: stay home if you can, avoid close contact with others in public, and obey the directives of the City and public health officials.”

The City has partnered with Vancouver Coastal Health and BC Housing on a multi-agency public partner Task Force to identify and implement measures to help protect people who are experiencing homelessness, living in SROs, and in the Downtown Eastside (DTES). The task force is working to improve communications with DTES residents and service providers, secure additional locations where people who need to self-isolate but are experiencing homelessness can go, and consider other basic needs such as food security and access to medication and safe supply. The task force is connecting with community networks and organizations to support in the response design and delivery.

This week, the City deployed 11 handwashing stations in the Downtown Eastside and the Park Board deployed one station in Oppenheimer Park. Four were stolen and three of those have since been recovered. We urge residents to ensure these essential services remain intact. We are all in this together and need to ensure everyone has access to proper handwashing stations. All washrooms in parks remain open and are being serviced.

“Declaring a State of Emergency means our dedicated teams can now take the appropriate next steps as we work around the clock to combat the impacts of COVID-19,” said City Manager Sadhu Johnston. “We know this is a difficult situation for many, but we will get through this together and this declaration provides additional tools for staff in addressing this rapidly evolving situation.”

To curb the potential spread of COVID-19 we are now limiting public access to many City buildings. This includes City Hall, the Development and Building Services Centre and the Engineering Services Client Services Counter.

Many services will continue to be available online, by phone or by appointment. All Vancouver Park Board, Vancouver Public Library and Vancouver Civic Theatre sites remain closed. The City of Vancouver has announced several closures and service impacts as a result of COVID-19. All details can be found on the City’s website at

“We appreciate there is a lot of information circulating at this time, and not all of it is coming from verified sources. All updates from the City of Vancouver will be noted within our news releases, on our website and our verified social feeds. Residents are encouraged to follow @CityofVancouver on Twitter to receive the latest updates on COVID-19 response,” the City said.

The City of Vancouver continues to work with public health officials and multiple partners on the COVID-19 response. There is the potential for even further service closures in the days to come as the City makes every effort to ensure essential services are maintained to the highest level.