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Coronavirus: Town of Canmore declares state of local emergency

The mountain town of Canmore, Alta. is seen on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016.
The mountain town of Canmore, Alta. is seen on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Canmore declared a state of local emergency on Wednesday as officials said the town was at a “tipping point in our ability to respond” to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

In a statement on its website, the town said it’s been dealing with an increase in local and regional visitors, combined with increased traffic after visitor access was restricted in Banff National Park.

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

“We are… installing signage at the entrances to the town of Canmore to discourage visitation to our mountain town,” the notice said.

“We will also monitor trailheads and parking areas within Canmore (Bow Bridge, Quarry Lake, Cougar Creek) and take measures to restrict access if necessary.”

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The town said the declaration gives the municipality more authority to do whatever it can to protect the town, adding that playgrounds had already been closed.

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Banff declares state of emergency amid COVID-19 pandemic
Banff declares state of emergency amid COVID-19 pandemic

The highway, however, is under provincial jurisdiction and therefore the town can’t close it.

The town also said Canmore residents and business owners can take advantage of utility and property tax deferrals for the months of April, May and June without facing penalties or paying interest.

“We will also be looking at be considering other longer-term options to support the financial health of our community,” the town said.

READ MORE: Locals worried as people still head to Rocky Mountains despite COVID-19 pandemic

Residents were urged to practice social distancing and to avoid trips outside the town.

“This is a stressful time for everyone, and it is important to show compassion and understanding towards others,” the town said,

“This is a time for community, for caring, and to show the Canmore spirit.

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“Rest assured that your mayor and council stands beside all of you now more than ever, and we will continue to do everything within our power to make sure our community stays strong.”