Edmonton’s Mayor Don Iveson has declared a state of local emergency.
He was urged to do so by city manager Adam Laughlin at an emergency advisory committee meeting Friday, a meeting called by the mayor after a special council meeting.
The declaration gives the director of emergency management agency broader powers to coordinate services, restrict travel, distribute essential supplies, evacuate people and animals, entering places without warrant, procure or fix prices on essential products.
Laughlin said with the increase in COVID-19 cases, it’s time to take the drastic measure.
The measure would be effective immediately and last for seven days.
The City of Edmonton is also set to offer free public transit and parking in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
City manager Adam Laughlin made the recommendations to city council in an update Friday on how the city is dealing with the pandemic.
City-owned parking lots should be free of charge and fees for curbside parking operated through E-Park zones should be dropped, for now.
Laughlin said the measures are meant to “improve social distancing and hygiene concerns of patrons.”
If council agrees with the recommendations, the new measures would begin Saturday.
Edmonton Transit bus drivers will not issue transfers and riders will be asked to board through the back door, he said.
Laughlin also suggested the city eliminate penalties for people who can’t pay their property taxes by the July 1 deadline. The city is considering extending the payment deadline to Aug. 31.
He said the tax-relief measure will mean the city will be short on cash.
“If they can pay, they’ll be helping to keep the city running,” he said.
Utility bills should be deferred, Laughlin added. Individual customers would have to let their utility provider know if they can’t pay their bills.
The city also set to close city hall as encounters between visitors and security have gone up in the past week, Laughlin said.
More to come