By order of the Province of British Columbia the State of Local Emergency in Prince Rupert has been suspended. The EOC is hereby closed. The City of Prince Rupert will focus on business continuity in order to maintain essential service levels.
Current COVID-19 Related City Service Impacts
The City of Prince Rupert would like to assure the community that we are taking steps to keep our facilities safe for the community and our staff as we continue to provide services during this global pandemic. Public health risk will be continually reassessed as we continue to receive information from provincial and federal health organizations and City services will be adjusted accordingly should the risk levels change. Impacts to different civic facilities are noted below.
The following steps are being taken across City Departments:
- Closure of all public-facing facilities and non-essential services. This includes City Hall, the Fire Department Customer Service area, Landfill, Recreation Facilities, and our Public Works yard. Emergency services, including fire and police are not affected by this closure. Please call (250) 627 0960 to arrange an appointment with City staff, if required. Please note that availability for in-person meetings may be limited.
- Enhanced disinfecting measures within City facilities
- Direction to staff to observe good hygiene practices as recommended by health authorities, inclusive of regular handwashing, avoiding touching ones' face, and social distancing
- Cancellation of events programming in line with recommendations for social distancing
- Mandatory self-quarantining of any staff returning from travel outside of Canada
- Cancellation of any non-essential travel plans (ie. meetings, training)
- Movement of meetings to remote formats, using call-in/video conferencing formats
Operations (Including Public Works + Development Services
The City’s Operations Department has moved to essential service provision measures. Essential services are the minimum services required to maintain health and safety in the community. The Operations Department will reduce and rotate its staffing to provide safe work environments and uninterrupted service.
The following services will continue:
- Emergency services – including fire and police, with appropriate health protocols in place
- Household garbage pick up
- Emergency water and sewer repairs. For emergency repairs, call (250) 624 6795 and (250) 624 3000 after hours.
- Cemetery services. For cemetery services, call (250) 627 0960. Please leave a message if there is no answer and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
The following services will not be available until further notice:
- Building inspections
- Non-essential bylaw functions
- Non-essential operations
- All recreation facilities, programming and events, including the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre (swimming pool and fitness centre) have been closed until further notice - with staff directed to conduct annual maintenance duties, potentially limiting the summer closure time this year;
Parks and Playgrounds
- All public playgrounds and parks within the City of Prince Rupert (including local School District locations) are now closed. Close contact and sanitation limitations of these public spaces present too high a risk under the current Provincial Order for social distancing and hygiene practices. As per this Order, everyone is currently being asked to limit activities outside their home.
- We understand that this is a difficult time for families having to stay home with young children, however the Provincial Medical Health Officer has made it clear that because of the incubation period and rapid transmission, the self-isolation and social distancing that we do today will benefit all of us two weeks and two months from now. These are difficult but necessary choices that must be made in the broader interest of all residents, and we thank you in advance for your cooperation.
- Parents can access additional information on appropriate health precautions via the BC Centre for Disease Control website, here: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19
- Services can be accessed by appointment only until further notice. Residents can call (250) 627 0960 to coordinate an appointment for services with City Staff.
- Council meetings will be closed to the public until further notice, but will be broadcast through Citywest and on our website at http://princerupert.ca/live
- During the closure, there are many services that can be accessed online via our website at www.princerupert.ca. This includes:
- Resources and contact information for cemetery arrangements
- Development-related Permits and Applications (which can be submitted via the contact information at the top of the fillable form)
- Building Permit Applications (which can be submitted via the contact information at the top of the fillable form):
- Information on properties – including descriptions, etc. via our online GOMAP feature
- Opportunities to learn more/give feedback on civic initiatives through our Rupert Talks platform
- The City is extending our deadline to qualify for the utility rate discount from March 31st to April 30th, 2020. City utility rate payers usually must pay utility fees by the end of March in order to qualify for a 10% discount to their bill, however this change has been made to accommodate the extraordinary circumstances. Please note that this extension will apply to this year (2020), only, and there is no extension to the deadline for property taxes.
- Alternative payment methods to in-person options are available - such as paying by cheque in the mailslot (delivered to City Hall on or before the due date) or online payment via your financial institution (contact your financial institution for more information). If you pay online via your financial institution, please make sure you do so at least 5 days before the deadline to ensure enough time for processing of payment.
The Prince Rupert Landfill will reopen on Monday, March 30th, 2020 at noon subject to the following conditions:
- To contact landfill attendant, call (250) 624 5482 while on site
- Debit and credit cards accepted through the TAP function
- No cash or cheques
- Pin pad will be located on the side of the scale house for customer use
- Receipts will not be issued
- Allow for extra wait times to permit safe physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet)
- Dispose of garbage as quickly and safely as possible
- Monday, March 30th Noon to 4:45 pm
- Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4:45 pm (After Monday March 30th)
- Saturday 10:00 am to 3:45 pm
- There has been an increase of household garbage pick up from 2 to 3 bags per week.
- Illegal dumping is an offense that will be prosecuted. Refuse left throughout the community will pose a significant risk to overall health and safety for residents.
Prince Rupert Airport
Following the cancellation of Air Canada flights to Prince Rupert during the month of April, the Prince Rupert Airport is now reduced to essential service levels. This includes access for emergency medical evacuations, runway maintenance, and our ability to receive supplies will continue to be maintained. To accommodate the reduced number of staff that will be travelling to and from the airport, the airport ferry will run on a reduced schedule. In addition, airport ferry staff will be on call to accommodate other emergency needs as they arise.
- For more information, see the full joint notice from the Airport Authority and City, here: http://princerupert.ca/joint_statement_airport_authority_and_city_regarding_continuation_essential_airport_services_2020
- Bus rides will be free for the remainder of March until the end of April. Refunds on March bus passes will not be available.
- BC Transit has implemented enhanced cleaning measures for their fleet of buses to prevent potential spread via transit. Their full notice outlining measures that are in place is posted, here: https://www.bctransit.com/prince-rupert/news?nid=1529708446459
Non-City Services and Facilities
- The Regional Recycling Depot has now closed to the public and services will be by appointment only. Appointments can be made by contacting the Depot directly at: (250) 624-2455; firstname.lastname@example.org
- See the full release from the Regional District for more information and updates: https://www.ncrdbc.com/about-us/news-notices/ncrd-programming-covid-19
Regional District Office
- The Regional District Office has now closed to the public and services will be by appointment only. Appointments can be made by contacting the office directly at: (250) 624-2002; email@example.com
- See the full release from the Regional District for more information and updates: https://www.ncrdbc.com/about-us/news-notices/ncrd-programming-covid-19
- The public library is closed to the public starting March 17th, 2020.
Please stay tuned to this webpage as well as the City’s communications channels, local news and social media for updates regarding potential changes to service.
Prince Rupert Archives
The Prince Rupert Archives will be closed to the public until further notice. Archives will continue to provide services remotely. You can reach us by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (250) 624-3326.
Museum of Northern BC
- The Museum of Northern BC has been closed until further notice.
Prince Rupert Senior's Centre
- The Prince Rupert Senior's Centre has been closed until further notice.
Ways to Help Your Fellow Community Members
Although due to threats of COVID-19 we may all be taking precautionary steps to 'social distance' physically, this does not make us less of a community. How we work together will also help us have greater capacity and resilience to manage should any cases of the virus show up in Prince Rupert. Given the need to band together, we as a community have an opportunity to support one another and the health care system we all rely on during this time.
- Where you can, look to reduce potential strain on our medical system. Unless you are in need of medical assistance, avoid visiting the local hospital and doctor's offices if you can;
- Northern Health has launched a COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line to help answer questions and concerns from Northern BC residents. The NH COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line can be reached at 1-844-645-7811. This Information Line, Public Healthlink at 811, or your primary care provider are other options for health information;
- If you do need to visit the hospital or doctor's office, ensure you follow any posted medical advice in their facilities - and follow best practice when it comes to thoroughly washing your hands and keeping a safe distance from others;
- If you are aware of people in the community who may already be self-isolating due to pre-existing conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus or have returned from a trip that requires them to self-isolate - reach out to ask if they need assistance picking up vital supplies or medicine, and check in on them with a phone call or message to help reduce potential feelings of anxiety/loneliness;
- If you are friends or neighbours with a doctor or nurse, you can also check in with them to see if they need additional support. Our medical professionals will be working hard to monitor for any changes in local conditions, and simple things like feeding/walking their pets or other offers of support (even thanks!) may be appreciated;
- Though we understand the need to be prepared, do not overstock essential household goods, which may limit available resources for others in need;
- Events like this hit hardest for people in need - if you can, donate to the local Food Bank at the Salvation Army;
- If a local arts/culture/sporting event is cancelled or you prefer not to attend, and it is not too much of a financial burden for you, consider donating the cost of your ticket/entrance fee. Local service organizations in various sectors of our community are likely to be hard hit by cancellations of fundraising events that they rely on to keep their programs operating;
- Many local businesses have had to suspend or downgrade services and/or operating hours. If you find yourself being tempted by online shopping while stuck at home, see if there is a local option from a store that will deliver;
- We know that there will likely be reduced travel over spring break, as well as limitations to programming availability for kids and youth. If you know parents that are struggling to think of things to do at home or in town with their children - share your ideas or plans with one another for craft projects or other activities that kids can do to stay busy (and help keep both kids and parents sane!);
Prince Rupert has been through a lot together, and we know helping each other comes naturally to our residents. We are all in this together!
Health Authority Resources
Municipal governments are guided by the direction of local, provincial and federal health authorities on matters related to public health. Residents seeking up to date information on the situation as it develops should follow Northern Health via their website and on social media and/or see the resources below.
For further information from health authorities across different levels of government, check out the following resources.
If you are unsure whether you need to self-isolate, self-monitor, or get tested for COVID-19, please call Northern Health’s COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line at 1-844-645-7811
Before you seek testing for COVID-19:
1) Use the new, online self-assessment tool to see if you need testing: https://covid19.thrive.health/
2) Call the 8-1-1 or your health care provider BEFORE you go to the clinic so they can be prepared for your test and take steps to keep staff and other patients safe.
Other options for health information and advice continue to be available, including calling your primary care provider, or contacting HealthLink BC (8-1-1) at any time.
Health Link BC online resources (includes answers to commonly asked questions): https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-feature/coronavirus-disease-covid-19
The BC Centre for Disease Control: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)
- The Federal Department of Health: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html
- The World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Support Resources for Residents and Businesses
- Federal Economic Response Program: On March 18th the Federal Government announced a host of measures to provide financial relief to Canadian residents and businesses. For more information on all available supports, follow this link.
- Mortgage Payment Assistance: There are now options through lenders and the CMHC to access up to a 6 month deferral of your mortgage. For advice on what to do if you are concerned with paying your mortgage, check out this CMHC resource.
- Income Supports:
- Employment Insurance: If you are sick or are forced to stay home, the federal government has waived the one-week waiting period for EI and has also waived the requirement for a doctor's note. For more information about how to apply, check out their website.
- Emergency Care Benefit: Starting in early April, the Federal government will launch the Emergency Care Benefit to provide you with up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. When applications are made available in the coming weeks, they will be administered through the CRA. To make yourself ready, it is strongly recommended if you haven't already to create a My CRA online account here.
- Pausing of Canada Student Loan Repayment: To support student and apprentice loan borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal has announced its plan to pause the repayment of Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans until September 30, 2020, with no accrual of interest. This program is pending Parliamentary approval, and more information can be found, here.
- Child Care Benefit: The Federal government has proposed an increase to the Child Care Benefit. More information is available here.
- Income Tax Payment Deferral: If you will owe personal income tax this year, payments can now be deferred until August. (However, if you think you will receive the GST credit or Canada Child Benefit, do not delay filing to make sure you get what you are entitled to this year.)
- Business-Specific Supports:
- Federal Wage Subsidy: The Federal government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities. For more information on this proposed program, check out this link.
- Deferred Business Tax Filing: The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. For more information, check out this link.
- Business Credit Availability Program: The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. Additional business credit is also available through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada For more information, check out this link.
- BC Hydro Customer Assistance: BC Hydro has launched a COVID19 Customer Assistance Program to allow you to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty. Call 1-800-224-9376 to discuss with them. In addition, if you are now facing financial hardship due to job loss, illness, or loss of a family member, you may also be eligible for BC Hydro's Customer Crisis Fund up to $600. More information is available here.