Vancouver takes careful, phased approach to re-opening

THE City of Vancouver announced on Tuesday that while managing its significant response to the COVID-19 crisis, it has also been developing its plan to support economic and community recovery, restart its own services, and rebuild for the future as we all adapt to the “new normal” in our city.

The City said its Restart Smart Vancouver plan lays out a carefully considered and phased approach to reopening and reinvigorating the city. The plan emphasizes safe access to community activities and services for residents, and support for local businesses – Vancouver residents are being asked to “stay strong and stay local”.

“I know Vancouver residents are looking forward to safely venturing out more, and that businesses are anxious to reopen or offer expanded services,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “Restarting our economy is a high priority, and we are looking at creative ways to support businesses with their reopening, including innovative uses of public space, while balancing these efforts with public health and safety to make sure we continue to flatten the curve.”

Starting on March 12, in response to the orders of the Provincial Health Officer, the City began to cancel public events, close the majority of facilities and reduce some services to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Essential services such as water, sewer, garbage pickup and others remained operational, while other services such as business licensing and permitting remained available online.

The City also worked with other levels of government and partners in the community to ramp up significant and ongoing additional support – including temporary housing, food and hygiene – for our most vulnerable citizens.

“We are taking a careful and phased approach to opening some facilities and restarting some City services, and our priority continues to be everyone’s health and safety,” said City Manager Sadhu Johnston, “Over the coming days and weeks, additional facilities and services will re-open. By staying strong and staying local, we can all continue to keep safe and help contribute to the economic recovery of our city.”

The City’s plan for restarting its services and re-opening some facilities aligns with the phased approach as outlined in the provincial government’s plan considers public health direction.  Park Board community centres, fitness centres and indoor/outdoor pools and other facilities, along with civic theatres and library branches, still remain closed, however to date some facilities have reopened and services have resumed including:

–        VanDusen Botanical Garden

–        Golf courses

–        Tennis and pickleball courts

–        Off-leash dog parks

–        Parking lots at parks and beaches (not including Stanley Park and English Bay)

–        Starting May 25, the Vancouver Public Library opened a computer lab in Central library’s Alice MacKay Room, offering 45-minute appointments for eight patrons at a time, with space for physically distancing

The public can refer to the City’s website and social media channels for a more detailed list and status of City facilities and services.

The City said Vancouverites have been doing a great job of reducing the spread of COVID-19 by staying home and staying put. As the City shifts into recovery and restart, it is asking the public to:

–        Stay Strong – keep two metres apart, do not attend large gatherings, and stay home if you are feeling unwell

–        Stay Local – support local businesses and your neighbourhood