Pitt Meadows seeks emergency powers to enforce COVID-19 precautions

Wants ability to act faster, close businesses, if needed

Pitt Meadows is seeking emergency powers from the province so it can enforce the anti-COVID-19 orders, such as banning meetings of more than 50 people, that have been made by the provincial health officer.

Council has filed an application with the province to declare a local state of emergency, Mayor Bill Dingwall said online, Friday, March 20.

“This will give the city extraordinary powers to enforce public safety measures in support of initiatives directed by the provincial health officer and the Minister of Public Safety in terms of limiting public gatherings and social distancing,” Dingwall said in a news release.

The declaration of a local state of emergency allows the city to act faster and access critical resources “in response to this ever-changing situation to protect our citizens,” Dingwall added.

READ MORE: COVID-19 precautions ‘not optional,’ B.C.’s Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

Under a local state of emergency, the city could close facilities and businesses, access buildings and take steps to protect vulnerable populations.

“We are taking action to do everything we can to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” Dingwall said.

“I continue to work closely with all of council and staff to protect the safety of our residents and staff, which is our number one priority.”

Gatherings outdoors where people are close together frustrate a local health care employee who’s working long hours trying to coordinate plans to deal with the crisis and who sees ball hockey games being played in Pitt Meadows.

“Wake up people!!!! Go for a walk. Go for a run. DO NOT HANG OUT WITH YOUR FRIENDS,” she said. “Please help make this time safe.”

READ MORE: Parents warned to stay away from playgrounds in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

City of Pitt Meadows has already closed all playgrounds, play structures, play boxes, the skate park, BMX Track and washrooms at Cottonwood Park and washrooms near the Spray Park at Harris Road Park as well as Spring Break Camps (effective Monday, March 23) until further notice.

Instead, people are encouraged to enjoy the trails, parks and open spaces – but to ensure proper social distancing and to avoid large groups.

Dingwall said later that bylaw officers could issue fines for gatherings of more than 50 people. Vancouver declared a state of emergency on Thursday, March 19.

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