After the province introduced stricter measures on Monday to limit the size of gatherings in British Columbia, the City of Kamloops has announced it is shutting down civic recreational facilities to further prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Effective at midnight as Monday gives way to Tuesday, the city is closing its arenas, pools, the Tournament Capital Centre and McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre. Over the weekend, the city announced it was closing pools, saunas and steam rooms. Other municipalities have also closed recreational facilities.
“This is a health crisis,” Mayor Ken Christian said during a press conference at city hall, stating the city continues to liaise with the health officials in charge of managing the issue. “We will continue to liaise with them and take what further actions we believe are necessary to protect the citizens of Kamloops, with respect to COVID-19.”
When asked, Christian said he is not aware of any confirmed cases in Kamloops.
On Monday, the city also activated its emergency operations centre and the mayor assured residents they will continue to receive essential services for which the city is responsible.
He said the city has a pandemic plan in place.
“I am assured that the essential utilities that the citizens of Kamloops continue to rely on every day — particularly water, sewer, storm sewer — we will continue to provide that service for the citizens of Kamloops,” Christian said.
No word yet, however, on whether or not the April 4 referendum for Kamloops Centre for the Arts will be postponed or when that final decision will be made.
As previously reported by KTW earlier on Monday, the mayor said he is concerned about the potential for voter suppression due to the pandemic and restrictions imposed due to it.
Christian also said during the press conference he is worried about the city’s ability to manage the referendum during the pandemic.
The mayor said postponement would come by way of an order from the minister of municipal affairs, but the city does not know when that decision will be known.
“I would suspect that as soon as we hear back from the minister, but my understanding is that their offices have been really pre-occupied dealing with issues related to the homeless and those that are in crisis already and now have another crisis compounding it,” Christian said.
“I get that. There is a byelection in the City of Victoria that is scheduled for April 4 as well. I was in communication with Mayor Lisa Helps today about looking at whatever happens in Victoria or Kamloops happens in either location — seems to make sense.”
Other issues include caring for the homeless, the transit system and some 750 city employees. The city is working with BC Housing to deal with the issue of social distancing and shelters, city hall will remain open as staff look at technology for working at home and BC Transit will be disinfecting all buses.
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District will close all libraries as of Tuesday, March 17, along with Avola School House and Little Fort and Vavenby community halls. All book drops will be closed during this time and patrons are asked to not return library items during the closure period. All due dates will be extended until April 29 and fines will be waived during the closure period. All digital content, including eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, video streaming, eLearning, is available online ay tnrl.ca.
The Kamloops Museum and Archives has closed, as has the Kamloops Art Gallery.
For updates on the city’s pandemic plans, go online to kamloops.ca/COVID.