Coronavirus (COVID-19) update from Mayor Doug McCallum on City services and operations

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Mayor Doug McCallum

The impact COVID-19 is having on our everyday life is unprecedented.

All of us are adjusting to new measures and approaches in how we go about our daily lives and how we interact with one another. With this in mind, I want to assure our citizens that the core services and operations that the City of Surrey provides are being maintained for the well-being and safety of our community with measures put in place to keep our staff and front line responders safe.

While we are doing everything to ensure for a smooth continuation, I would ask the people of Surrey for their patience given the fast-changing nature of events.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Surrey RCMP and Surrey Fire are taking proactive steps to ensure that the safety of Surrey residents will not be compromised.

Front line policing is the top priority with resources shifted to ensure for response to Priority 1 emergency and 911 calls, managing prolific offenders in the community, maintaining a highly visible police presence in the city and protecting Surrey’s most vulnerable with RCMP and Mental Health Outreach Team operating at full capacity.

Surrey Fire Service is, currently, at normal service levels and all Surrey Fire Halls are at full operational strength to respond to emergency and 911 calls. Surrey Fire has contingency plans in place to ensure maximum response capability is maintained.

Starting Monday, March 23rd, all city run day camps will be shut down.

Also, starting Monday, the two daycares located at civic facilities will be shut down to the public in order to prioritize space for health workers, first responders and essential service workers.

As part of the City’s COVID-19 pandemic response, modifications have been made to our customer service counters at City Hall such as the requirement to use to use hand sanitizer stations upon entry and exit from City Hall. To protect our staff, as of yesterday afternoon, the City has begun implementing remote work options that ensure employee safety while maintaining full continuity in City operations.

I want to stress that while you may see a change in how business is conducted at City Hall, the business of the City has not stopped.

For example, the Planning and Development Department are prioritizing permit applications to expedite issuance for simple permits. Remote inspections have been expanded to enhance social isolation opportunities while keeping projects going.

As of tomorrow, a call centre to direct planning, development and building inquiries and to make appointments that would normally take place at City Hall will be in operation, so our clients will not have to come to City Hall. The phone number for the planning, development and building call centre inquiries is 604 591 4086.

Ensuring that business continues is vital in the days ahead, that’s why the City has approved infrastructure construction to proceed for the Anniedale Tynehead NCP. This new infrastructure represents $35M dollars worth of construction and the project itself will bring more housing choices to Surrey. The funds for the infrastructure has been paid by the developer.

City staff have also been taking stock of large format industrial space that could potentially be used to set up temporary hospitals, or as space for production lines to manufacture essential medical equipment, or for warehousing of essential resources.

There have also been a lot of questions regarding property taxes. We are actively working with the Province on what can be done on this front and we will update you as soon as we can.

As we all know now, events are changing everyday, and I can assure you that the City of Surrey will adapt accordingly.

While our recreational facilities are closed during this time, we have begun to put up videos of classes that you can do at home. We just launched the videos last night and we are continually adding to it, which includes resources from our libraries, museums, and galleries. I want to thank our Parks, Recreation and Culture staff for the great and quick work they are doing on this front.

In the meantime, I continue our residents to enjoy our outdoor spaces including our parks, playgrounds, and beaches. Get out in the fresh air but do so by being mindful of social distancing. Use your judgement, Surrey is a big city, there are many outdoor spaces you can make use of while keeping social distancing intact.

I want to conclude by saying that I am proud of our residents for their calm and resolve during this time. We will get through this because we are all in this together.

We should also take a moment to thank the people who are working on our behalf during this time. From health care staff and front-line emergency responders, to the grocery clerk and transit operators, everyone who is going to work to keep us safe, our kitchen pantries full, I want to thank you. I also want to encourage everyone to take a moment and send a message of thanks and support for their efforts they are doing on our behalf.