Lethbridge mayor urges patience as city responds to COVID-19 pandemic

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Lethbridge mayor urges patience as city responds to COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH ABOVE: The City of Lethbridge updated its COVID-19 response efforts Thursday as the city marked Day 2 of a state of local emergency. Tom Roulston reports – Mar 19, 2020

The City of Lethbridge entered Day 2 two of a state of local emergency Thursday in light of the novel coronavirus and the mayor had a simple message for residents.

“We ask that you be patient while we work out the answers for our community.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Lethbridge declares state of local emergency amidst COVID-19 pandemic

The city is trying to determine answers to questions concerning things like utility bills and property taxes.

Spearman said Thursday the city is now examining the logistics and financial implications of implementing a 90-day deferral period for all city utility bills.

As for property taxes, the mayor said options are being weighed, but any decision on that front would need approval by city council.

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Click to play video: 'Edmonton looking at property tax, utility bill deferrals in light of COVID-19'
Edmonton looking at property tax, utility bill deferrals in light of COVID-19

Initial discussions are also underway about the formation of a local economic recovery task force.

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“It’s essential that we find ways to support local businesses through this crisis and throughout the recovery that will follow,” Spearman said.

READ MORE: Alberta reports province’s 1st COVID-19 death, officials working on plan to enforce new rules

As of Thursday, public access to city hall is now off limits. The same rules apply at the Lethbridge visitor centre, police station, all fire halls, the animal shelter and Lethbridge Transit administration building.

“We’re continuing to work and enhance our organizational capacity for employees to work from home where possible and we’re in the process of determining which staff are able to do that,” said Jody Meli, the interim city manager.

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All city recreation and culture facilities are also closed.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: How long can Canadians expect to be social distancing?

Any residents or businesses that need to conduct city business are asked to go online or call Lethbridge 311.

The city’s director of emergency management said Thursday all first responders remain at the ready to respond to any 911 calls.

He added residents and businesses appear to be abiding by provincial directives to limit large gatherings to 50 people or less.

“The reports I’ve gotten is that businesses are actually embracing this fully,” said Marc Rathwell. “We need to make changes now socially to try and decrease or flatten that curve.”

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