Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran addresses media from the front steps of council chambers on March 23. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran addresses media from the front steps of council chambers on March 23. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

WATCH: Kelowna mayor announces city playgrounds, outdoor sports facilities to close

Parks will remain open but if residents don’t practice social distancing, the city may close them

Kelowna mayor Colin Basran made an announcement regarding the COVID-19 pandemic at the steps of City Hall on Mar. 23.

He opened his address by thanking healthcare providers and care staff who are working round the clock.

“I want to thank all healthcare providers, senior home care staff, first responders and everyone else on the frontlines of this battle who are providing essential services. These include everything from the truck drivers and grocery store employees who keep our food supply chain functioning, to the childcare and eldercare workers who allow healthcare professionals and other essential services workers do their job,” he said.

As a gesture of gratitude, staff will place hearts in front of the city hall as a symbol of thanks for the frontline workers.

“I would encourage anyone to do the same on the front windows and doors so that our neighbours driving past our homes know they have our support.”

Basran announced that 81 city-owned playgrounds are now closed, as are all outdoor exercise facilities, which include tennis courts, Pickleball courts, basketball courts and other places where groups gather. He added that for now, open spaces and walkways will remain open but if community members don’t practice social distancing, the city may close them.

The public hearing scheduled for Apr. 7 has also been cancelled.

The Kelowna International Airport, Glenmore Landfill and the RCMP remain open to the public, with measures in place to protect staff.

“Given the serious economic consequences of this pandemic, the city is looking into what we can do to ease the financial strain on businesses and residents,” Basran said.

“We will report out on any assistance we can provide when that’s in place.”

Those seeking financial assistance during this time were directed to the provincial government.

“The city’s critical response team has been working for several weeks and continues to put numerous changes into action every day. Contingency planning is in place to ensure essential services can be maintained.”

The mayor also addressed why the City of Kelowna hasn’t declared a state of emergency yet as other municipalities have.

“The answer is that the broad powers granted under the provincial state of emergency are addressing the immediate needs in our community for safety and compliance with the Medical Health Officer’s orders,” he said.

“I fully endorse the advice on public health matters announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s Medical Health Officer.”

Basran added that a local state of emergency won’t give the city more power than it already has through the province.

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