March 26 COVID-19 Update

Posted On Thursday March 26, 2020

Council agrees to waive transit fares effective March 27, 2020

City Council held a special meeting on Thursday, March 26 at 9:00 a.m. to address a motion to waive transit fares effective March 27, to approve a borrowing bylaw to establish a line of credit and to make adjustments to fees and charges for the waste collection program.

“Council continues to hold special meetings to deal with emerging issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic as they arise. We appreciate that administration is being very nimble and responsive to issues as they arise and that decisions need to be made quickly” stated Mayor Gale Katchur.

Council approved a motion to discontinue the collection of transit fares effective March 27 until further notice. This applies to Local routes 582, 583, 584, and route 580 to Edmonton’s Clareview LRT Station. Council was advised that trips are down about 70 percent from normal use due to school closures and other factors. Customers who have already purchased their April passes through retailers, will have options to exchange their April pass for a future monthly pass at City facilities once they resume regular operations, or request a refund.

City Council also passed a motion to create a borrowing bylaw for the purpose of establishing a line of credit. The passage of this Bylaw will give the City greater flexibility to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic consequences thereof.

Council also approved a motion to provide the City Manager with the authority to respond to waste related concerns on an as-needed basis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic by relaxing requirements under the Waste Bylaw until June 30, 2020. Resident concerns will be handled on an individual basis through the Waste Hotline at 780-992-6218.

On Wednesday, March 25 all hard surface playgrounds, those with fixed play equipment, were closed to prevent contact with hard surfaces which can transmit the COVID-19 virus from person to person.

“It will take a few days for the Parks staff to put up tape barriers at each playground location but that does not mean an unmarked playground is open,” explained City Manager Troy Fleming.

All recreation and culture facilities remain closed at this time and effective Friday, April 3 at 6:00 p.m., the Dow Centennial Centre will be closed to the public. All tenant services in the building including Dairy Queen and Booster Juice have decided to close as of that date due to low sales.

Last week, the Provincial Government recommended that municipalities consider options for municipal utility account holders (water, sewer, and waste collection). Council dealt with City utility bills on March 23. If financial challenges are being experienced, utility customers may defer payment for up to 90 days without penalty and are encouraged to contact City utility representatives to discuss payment options by calling 780-992-6228 or email utilityclerk@fortsask.ca.

Utility bills for the current billing cycle of March 1 to 31, 2020 were mailed out on March 24, 2020. This billing cycle does include late fees and penalties applied as of March 17, 2020 to any prior outstanding balances. City representatives will work with customers on payment options for prior billing periods as well.

To help residents through this difficult time, there are other financial resources as announced by the Alberta and Canadian government:

   •   Emergency Financial Support: alberta.ca/emergency-financial-assistance
   •   Federal Economic Response Plan: canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan

For our local business community, we have created a COVID-19 Resources for Businesses page and will continually update it as more information becomes available.

The City’s website is up-to-date with information on program or service changes. Check out fortsask.ca/covid19. For health related concerns, please use Alberta.ca/covid19 as a reliable source of up-to-date information. On March 13, Alberta Health Services launched an online self-assessment tool to help Albertans determine whether they should get tested for COVID-19.