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City of Edmonton eases more COVID-19 measures; relaunch plans to come next week

More provincial guidance needed before Edmonton’s relaunch: Iveson
WATCH ABOVE: Mayor Don Iveson said there will be many stops and starts to the City of Edmonton's relaunch plan, saying more guidance is needed from the province on how to go about bringing back services safely. He also touched on infrastructure work and other projects that will happen this year, and ones that will be delayed because of COVID-19 budget challenges.

The City of Edmonton has released a few more details on its relaunch strategy, including the opening date for some city-owned golf courses.

However, Edmontonians will have to wait until Wednesday for the full relaunch plan.

READ MORE: Edmonton to start lifting some COVID-19 restrictions May 2

The city’s emergency advisory committee met Thursday, where the local state of emergency was extended by another seven days.

Interim city manager Adam Laughlin asked Edmontonians for patience as the city works with the province on steps to relaunch the economy. He said actions will be aligned with public health measures, but noted there are still many unanswered questions.

City of Edmonton eases more COVID-19 measures; relaunch plans to come next week
City of Edmonton eases more COVID-19 measures; relaunch plans to come next week

“Right now there are a number of practical operational questions the province still needs to provide details on. We are working closely with them to obtain that specific guidance,” Laughlin said.

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Mayor Don Iveson also acknowledged that businesses have a lot of questions they want answered to ensure they are able to open safely under Phase 1 of the province’s relaunch strategy beginning May 14.

READ MORE: Kenney reveals Alberta’s three-phase COVID-19 relaunch plan

Iveson said the city will work closely with the province and Alberta Health Services in the coming days to ensure guidelines are “crystal clear” for residents and businesses.

“They have not yet provided the level of detail that enables as much clarity as we would like and we do think it is a dangerous road for it to be left up to each municipality to determine its own public health restrictions,” Iveson said. “Clear and consistent guidelines across Alberta and particularly for our region are needed to keep Albertans safe.

“We don’t want to end up at odds with the province or with businesses that are desperate to open up, but we do need to make sure that we’re all keeping our residents as safe as possible.”

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Laughlin said the relaunch plan will follow five principles. All decisions will be:

  • Evidence-based and strategically informed
  • Methodical and staged
  • Resourced and clear
  • Monitored and adaptable
  • Responsive and effective

In the coming weeks, the focus will be on a combination of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as relaunching and recovering from it, Laughlin said.

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He stressed the recovery process would be long.

Reducing social disorder

The city has implemented a five-point plan to discourage the disorder in and around the Exhibition Lands, where the Expo Centre is being used to support vulnerable people through the pandemic.

Laughlin said the shuttle between the Expo Centre and the Kinsmen Field House — where homeless Edmontonians move between day and night — has been increased to help prevent movement in the river valley.

READ MORE: City of Edmonton working to get more showers for EXPO Centre COVID-19 facility

Peace and police officers will be patrolling more, and porta potties have been set up at the entrance of the Expo Centre. The porta potties will be staffed by members with Boyle Street Community Services.

“Transit peace officers and the LRT EPS beat officers continue to address the disorder concerns at the Coliseum LRT Station platform,” Laughlin said.

“The Neighbourhood Empowerment Team and EPS are working together on monitoring Borden Park and administration has connected with Alberta Avenue Business Association to understand local concerns and provide litter cleanup support.”

About 700 people use the Expo Centre facility each day, officials said.

Here is a closer look at some of the measures that were announced during Thursday’s meeting:

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City-owned golf courses

The city announced Victoria and Riverside golf courses will open to the public on Monday, May 11. Golfers can begin booking tee times on the city’s website on Monday morning.

Food and beverage services will not be available at the golf courses until further advice is received from Alberta Health Services.

Due to the financial implications, Laughlin said Rundle Park Golf Course will remain closed through the summer.

“Rundle, from a cost perspective, historically has been different from the other two,” Laughlin explained.

“So it’s really an economic decision. In the past we’ve also looked at Rundle from a program and service review perspective around the viability of it, or the ongoing viability of it.”

READ MORE: Edmonton golfers hit the links with strict new safety protocols

Dog parks

The city has already eased some measures when it comes to dog parks, including opening 38 off-leash parks last weekend.

On Thursday, the city also announced Lauderdale dog park, the largest fenced-in dog park in Edmonton, is once again open to residents and their pets.

Pet owners are asked to continue to practice physical distancing and to clean their hands after touching the gates. As a health and safety precaution, the city will not offer dog bags in dispensers at the park. Pet owners are asked to bring their own bags and pick up after their dogs.

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The city’s other fenced-in dog parks — Paisley, Alex Decoteau and Manning Village – will remain closed for now while the city monitors the social distancing at the Lauderdale park.

Outdoor pools, spray parks

The city will not open its outdoor pools this summer, Laughlin said. The City Hall fountain, spray parks and ponds at Rundle Park will also remain closed for the 2020 summer season.

Summer programming

  • The following services will be suspended this summer:
  • Neighborhood Playground Program (Green Shacks)
  • YEG Youth program sites and events
  • Summer Leaders in Training program

The city said it is looking at other summer programming, including day camps at city facilities, to determine whether they can operate safely within provincial guidelines.

Additional details about the city’s relaunch strategy will be presented at the next emergency advisory committee meeting on May 13.

— With files from Vinesh Pratap and Scott Johnston, Global News.