The City of Pitt Meadows has earmarked a number of capital projects that will either be cancelled, postponed or completed at a reduced scope as they find $1 million to fund a grant they recently announced to ease the financial burden that the COVID-19 crisis is having on residential homeowners.
The city will be postponing the South Bonson roundabout project.
Only minor safety improvements will be taking place, such as removing shrubbery to improve vehicle and pedestrian sightlines and a crosswalk will be installed.
The fire hall replacement project will still be going ahead because it is needed and designed to meet safety requirements and future demands, said a press release by the city on Tuesday, May 5.
However, the fire hall replacement project is being funded through City reserves and will not impact property taxes.
Fire Services have been temporarily relocated to the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport during construction.
The COVID-19 Financial Relief Grant is a one-time grant for residential taxpayers that will cover this year’s entire combined property and utility tax increase.
“The City continues to be diligent with annual reserve contributions, which are essential to replace capital assets and ensure our long-term financial viability and ability to continue to provide excellent services to the community in the future” said Chief Administrative Officer Mark Roberts in the release, adding that a second capital project review will be completed over the coming weeks to determine the feasibility of postponing additional projects.
The city has also taken measures to save money during the pandemic such as – redeploying parks and recreation staff to the Bylaw Task Force; releasing 47 part-time, auxiliary and temporary staff; realizing savings due to travel and conference restrictions; suspending exempt salary increments and council cost of living increases; cancelling all staff training and professional development; and implementing a hiring freeze.
“We activated our Emergency Operations Centre on March 16 and mobilized quickly to ensure the safety of the community and to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Bill Dingwall.
“Staff and Council continue to work hard to meet the community’s needs and ensure that essential services are maintained, while managing municipal finances effectively,” he said.
Council is still attending regular meetings through virtual conference calls and, along with staff, have taken on new roles like on the Economic Recovery Task Force, organized to help support local businesses, as well as the Community Check-In Task Force, to support youth, seniors and vulnerable citizens.
Operations and parks crews are continuing their work to ensure the City’s drinking water, sanitation water, drainage and critical infrastructure are maintained and monitored and remaining staff are working remotely with many employees taking on a substantially increased workloads due to the impacts of COVID-19.
“We are focusing on delivery of core municipal services such as police, fire, clean water and waste water, maintenance of roads and bridges and waste collection, while responding to shifts in priorities and being financially prudent,” said Chief Administrative Officer Mark Roberts.
All of the measures taken are part of the city’s ongoing efforts to provide support and services to the community, maintain a balanced municipal budget, consider employee health and wellness, and position the community for recovery once the physical distancing requirements are lifted by the Provincial Health Officer, said the release.
And, although Pitt Meadows City Hall is closed to the public, residents can still access eServices that provide online access to City accounts and services 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week at mypittmeadows.com or call 604-465-5454 during regular business hours.