Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison. (File photo)

Salmon Arm asked to identify facilities for isolation in COVID-19 response

Mayor downplays need in city for new bylaw enforcement powers enabled by province

Where might people in Salmon Arm be evacuated to en masse should the need arise?

B.C. municipalities have been asked by the province to list resources, including facilities, buildings and other possible accommodation that could be utilized in response to COVID-19.

Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison said this request pertains to possible future need for isolation of large numbers.

“If there was… the need to quarantine individuals en masse, and I think this refers to all people but also those that are homeless, that they want to have that accommodation prepared, or to know what the possibilities might be should that occur…,” Harrison explained.

“If there was an epidemic break-out in one area and the need to quarantine individuals en masse… they want to have that accommodation prepared or to know what the possibilities might be should that occur,” said Harrison.

Read more: Sicamous offering grants of up to $2,000 to help non-profits through COVID-19

Read more: Mayor says Salmon Arm’s plans for COVID-19 to be shared Wednesday

While larger facilities like the city’s rec centre might be used in emergencies involving fire or flood, with COVID-19, options are needed that keep people separated.

“Things like hotels are ideal because you need rooms that have their own washrooms and are totally separate, so people who don’t have their own house, they can isolate,” said Harrison.

Communication with B.C.’s Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, who Harrison spoke with on March 26, also touched on the recently announced ministerial orders around enforcement and municipal operations.

Municipal bylaw officers were given authority to enforce orders from the provincial health officer, including a ban on gatherings of 50 people or more and the mandatory closure of certain businesses. Fines can be up to $25,000, and courts can also order jail time.

Harrison said Salmon Arm residents have been co-operative, businesses required to close have done so, and he sees people practising safe social distancing.

“We don’t see that (enforcement) as being a large piece of work for us just because I think the education piece has been good here and people are really starting to understand the need for everybody to co-operate,” said Harrison.

Regarding municipal operations, Harrison said cities have been granted more flexibility to conduct meetings electronically as well as adopt bylaws more quickly when deemed necessary.

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