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Playgrounds closed, service counters closed: the latest Edmonton developments amid COVID-19

Playgrounds, service counters closed: the latest City of Edmonton developments amid COVID-19
WATCH ABOVE: Playgrounds and sledding hills are being closed and spray parks will not open as scheduled later this year. Vinesh Pratap has more on that, plus other services the City of Edmonton has shut down.

Editor’s note: This story originally said all Reuse, Eco Stations and Recycling Depots in the city of Edmonton were closed. The city has clarified that only some are closed. This story has been updated to reflect the correct information.

Effective immediately, the City of Edmonton is closing all playgrounds as the city continues to navigate the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

“With schools closed, we understand this will be disappointing news for some families and children,” interim city manager Adam Laughlin said Tuesday afternoon. “But the reason we’re doing this is to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

A photo of a playground at 97 Street and 74 Avenue in Edmonton taken on March 23, 2020.
A photo of a playground at 97 Street and 74 Avenue in Edmonton taken on March 23, 2020. Jennifer Crosby/ Global News

According to Laughlin, the hard surfaces of the playground equipment aren’t cleaned by the city, so there’s a risk of transfer of the virus.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Parks Canada to close national parks, historic sites to vehicle traffic

The park spaces around playgrounds remain open and Laughlin said the playgrounds will be blocked off and patrols will begin to make sure Edmontonians are adhering to the new rules.

“So please, if you plan to go outside, spread out and maintain a safe distance from others to ensure all of our safety.”

City of Edmonton stresses need for social distancing out in public
City of Edmonton stresses need for social distancing out in public

The city will also not open city-run spray parks on the regular season schedule. Laughlin said those parks typically open in mid-May.

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Other changes Edmontonians will see in parks include the removal of some picnic tables to force social distancing. Sledding hills will also be closed and the city will not be maintaining cross-country ski trails anymore this season.

Edmonton closing playgrounds, sledding hills; limits picnic sites and won’t open spray parks
Edmonton closing playgrounds, sledding hills; limits picnic sites and won’t open spray parks

Airport bus route

Effective immediately, ETS bus route 747 will be suspended for all travellers. The route travels between the Century Park Transit Centre in Edmonton and the Edmonton International Airport.

The change is to support the “government’s directive requiring travellers to immediately self-isolate when returning from abroad,” Laughlin said.

The route will continue to operate as a charter for people who work at the airport or in the vicinity.

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Edmonton Transit Service 747 suspended for travellers, remains for airport workers
Edmonton Transit Service 747 suspended for travellers, remains for airport workers

Service counter changes

On Monday night, the city announced in-person service counters at the Edmonton Service Centre, the Edmonton City Hall Service Counter and the Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board front counter would be closing.

Laughlin said visits to these counters had slowed amid the COVID-19 pandemic already and these services are available online, so Edmontonians can still get the information they need without in-person contact.

“These closures will further help to protect the health and safety of City of Edmonton employees, and the people we serve,” Laughlin said.

The counters will be closed as long as is necessary, he said. Animal Care and Control’s service counter remains open, but by appointment only.

Paint exchange areas at all Eco Stations are closed, as well as the Edmonton Reuse Centre and the Ambleside Eco Station, The Kennedale, Coronation and Strathcona Eco Stations remain open at this time.

City of Edmonton reduces in-person services
City of Edmonton reduces in-person services

Fake City of Edmonton letter

Laughlin addressed a letter that recently surfaced that says the city is monitoring licence plates and the recipient is being flagged as someone who isn’t complying with government directives to stay home.

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“Let me be clear, this is not a letter from the City of Edmonton. It’s a fake. Ignore the letter.”

The City of Edmonton says a letter appearing to come from the city about monitoring license plates is a fake.
The City of Edmonton says a letter appearing to come from the city about monitoring license plates is a fake. Supplied: Jack Shultz

Laughlin said the city is attempting to trace where the letter came from and encouraged residents to call 311 if they receive something from the city they’re not sure is correct.

‘It’s a fake. Ignore the letter’: Edmonton interim manager addresses fake memo
‘It’s a fake. Ignore the letter’: Edmonton interim manager addresses fake memo

Edmonton Expo Centre for vulnerable population

The Edmonton Expo Centre opened on Monday to serve as an overflow shelter for the city’s vulnerable population. It will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for people who aren’t showing symptoms of COVID-19.

A separate area of the Expo centre has been earmarked for those who have symptoms or may have come in contact with someone with COVID-19.

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There are health and mental health services available at the centre, Laughlin said.

High Level Bridge

For the rest of the week, Laughlin announced the High Level Bridge will be lit up blue and green in support of AHS and front-line workers.

“It is true that we’re all in this together,” he said. “If we continue to support and take care of each other, we are better for it.”

‘You are helping us all get through this’: City thanks residents for messages of hope
‘You are helping us all get through this’: City thanks residents for messages of hope

READ MORE: Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson self-isolating over ‘mild symptoms’ amid COVID-19 pandemic

Mayor Don Iveson wasn’t present at the availability after announcing on Monday that he would be self-isolating after experiencing minor symptoms similar to those of the novel coronavirus.