The city of Parksville announced on March 16 that they would close down their offices until further notice. (News file photo)

Parksville shuts down city offices over COVID-19 concerns

Decision made with an ‘abundance of caution’

New information comes out everyday regarding the COVID-19 situation, here’s the latest from Parksville, Qualicum Beach and the RDN:

Qualicum Beach

The Town of Qualicum Beach has taken further precautions against the spread of COVID-19, by closing town related facilities, until further notice:

• Town Hall (closed to the public but still conducting business)

• Civic Centre

• Community Hall

• Veterans’ Way Washrooms

• Digital Media Studio

• Oceanside Hospice (Valhalla)

Other town-related facilities have also decided to close:

• Qualicum Beach Museum

• Library

• Oceanside Community Safety Office

• Memorial Golf Course

In a release put out on March. 18, the town also reminded residents of information about a new COVID-19 screening clinic:

“A new referral-only COVID-19 screening clinic has opened in Nanaimo, as of today. Health officials are asking residents not to attend or call the screening clinic unless referred there by a primary care provider or an 811 HealthLink BC nurse,” read the release.

Council and Committee of the Whole meetings will continue, with an attendance cap being set at 50 people. Residents are encouraged to view meetings via live stream. Open house and committee and commission meetings are cancelled until further notice.

“We encourage you to continue to exercise good hygiene habits, practice adequate social distancing, and continue to be a community that supports one another,” said mayor Brian Wiese in a press release.

Town municipal services will continue as normal, and facilities will be cleaned more frequently. Staff are also encouraged to stay home when they feel ill, and to take extra hygiene measures while at work.

Parksville

The City of Parksville announced on Monday (March 16) that their offices would be closed to the public until further notice due to concern around COVID-19.

The decision was made by Mayor Ed Mayne, with an “abundance of caution.”

READ MORE: UPDATES: COVID-19 coverage for the Parksville Qualicum Beach area

All essential services in Parksville including fire, bylaw enforcement and the city will continue to function. Last week the city canceled all non-essential meetings and made council meetings closed to the public (they can still be viewed online).

Mayne said as well as being concerned about public health, he’s also worried about the effect COVID-19 will have on local businesses.

“Local businesses are experiencing a dramatic drop in business so it crucially important for our residents to support local and small businesses whenever possible,” he said. “By supporting local businesses, you will help them to survive these challenging times and at the same time, will reduce unnecessary travel.”

He said personally, he has been washing his hands and cutting down on meetings.

“I personally have a number of those [factors] where I’m more susceptible to this virus than a lot of people,” he said. “I have to be cognizant of that, and so I’m watching it very carefully.”

Parksville released some additional information on March 17, that included the following on what they are doing:

– Emergency program coordinators from Parksville and Qualicum Beach are working together and a Level 1 emergency operations centre has been activated.

– The City has identified essential functions and the people who perform them and are poised to make changes to operations should it be necessary.

– Activation of pandemic policies and pandemic communications strategy.

– Internal updates for staff. Every effort is being made to keep employees healthy. Increased hygiene includes sanitization, deep cleaning of offices as well as other measures.

– Scheduled conference calls with Island Health chief medical officer three times each week.

They also put forward the following messages on what you can do personally:

– If you have symptoms and may have been exposed to COVID-19, you must call your local primary care provider, or 811. Non-medical info, 7:30 am to 8 pm may be obtained from 1 888-COVID19 (1 888-268-4319)

– Continue to refer to trusted sources for information. The City provides general information and links at https://letstalkparksville.ca/covid-19-information-and-resources.

– Continue to practice safe social distancing and avoid all group gatherings. Please continue to be vigilant in reducing the risk and spread of COVID-19 – when coughing or sneezing, use a tissue or the sleeve of a shirt or jacket to cover the spread of droplets and most importantly, wash your hands multiple times a day.

– Hoarding is hurting more than it is helping. The province has assured everyone there are sufficient supplies and the supply chain is healthy.

Regional District of Nanaimo

RDN offices are set to remain open, but with reduced staffing.

As of March 16 at 4 p.m., Oceanside Place Arena is closed. Ravensong Aquatic Centre will remain closed and all registered recreation programs including day camps and drop-in activities have been cancelled effective 5:00 p.m. March 16. Regular transit services will continue, with increased sanitation. Drivers will also be taking note of the number of passengers, as to follow the Public Health Officer’s requirement of no gathers over 50 people.

Ian Thorpe, chair of the RDN, said he’s confident that staff are keeping everyone informed the best they can, and adapting with the news of each day.

“Basically, we’re trying to keep things operating within the provincial guidelines,” he said. “In terms of our board, we’re looking at setting up some type of virtual board meeting.”

— NEWS staff, submitted

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