Coquitlam city hall has rolled out its roadmap for COVID-19 recovery, with most recreation activities soon returning to normal.
As of July 1, it will be working to reinstate city-run adult sports and high-intensity fitness classes as well as allow block parties and community events.
Clubhouses, change rooms and indoor concessions will also re-open while bookings from external groups for indoor spaces will be taken.
Under BC’s Restart: A Plan To Bring Us Back Together, no physical distancing, masks or city employee daily health checks will be required in civic facilities although mask wearing and distancing will still be recommended; safety measures will be phased out during the summer.
As for business meetings, in-person gatherings will be permitted while larger indoor events (also with COVID-safe guidelines) can be held; these include public engagement sessions, open houses and volunteer meetings.
The city’s COVID-19 Restart Framework came before council-in-committee on Monday (June 21), with deputy city manager Raul Allueva noting more easing of public health restrictions to come in Step 4, beginning on Sept. 7.
Step Two of the re-start program launched on June 15.
“It’s been a long journey,” Allueva said of the pandemic lockdown that began on March 18, 2020.
“Coquitlam has been watching this very carefully like all businesses and municipalities” around B.C.
Allueva said the province is now working on legislation to allow for local governments to be able host public meetings online permanently, if they wish.
Currently, Coquitlam has a hybrid model in which elected officials and staff can be present in the council chambers, or beam in electronically (masks are not required if council members are at their work stations, which are separated by Plexiglas).
The topic of in-person attendance was pressed by Coun. Bonita Zarrillo who, earlier this year, complained about the health and safety standards while in council chambers; since February, she has only Zoomed in for meetings.
She also voiced concern about the lack of equal access, when some councillors are in the council room and others are not, and may not be able to hear the city staff reports and council conversations clearly.
Still, Allueva said the city is in “lock-step” with the provincial health orders. “We’re going to be moving slowly and carefully and making sure the best decisions are made,” he said.
Responded Zarrillo, “This has been a very difficult time for everybody.”
Mayor Richard Stewart cited one week in February in which he attended 37 hours of online meetings; he sustained headaches as a result.
Meanwhile, Stewart urged the public to get vaccinated, saying residents can walk-up to clinics for their free jab.
“There’s all kinds of opportunities to get your first shot,” he said. “That’s how we get past this, finally.”
Allueva said as the province moves into Step 4, city staff intend to:
- add additional programming
- work toward regular operating hours at city recreation facilities
- return to non-registered drop-in access
- reintroduce the One Pass and the previous recreation fee structure
City facilities, services and programs are due to return to normal by the end of the year, Allueva said.
More information will be shared at www.coquitlam.ca/csrp.