Here's some answers to questions residents asked Burnaby's mayor on COVID-19

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley responded to some questions from residents of the city in a Facebook livestream Friday morning.

Here’s some of the questions that were asked and Hurley’s answers to those questions.

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(Answers have been lightly edited for grammar, flow, clarity and space, but we’ve left it as close to a true transcript as possible. For the full set of questions and Hurley’s answers, watch the video embedded below.)

Will the city be providing free parking around the city, especially around the hospital and health centres?

We have kind of been a little bit ahead of the curve on this one. We have had one of our streets with free parking outside Burnaby Hospital for about six months right now, and I know many members of the public have written to me, expressing their appreciation for that.

Certainly, around the rest of the hospital area, we will not be enforcing our parking regulations at this time. I truly appreciate the efforts of the province to do away with parking fees inside the hospital grounds, as well. For the rest of the city, especially where public safety can be an issue, we will continue to enforce our parking laws, because public safety is always paramount.

What is the City of Burnaby doing to ensure residents are following physical distancing in outdoor spaces?

We believe that education is the best way to convince people that physical distancing is, again, paramount at this time, so we can ensure the safety of all the residents within this city and to ensure we’re following the directions of our medical professionals.

We have closed many of our playing fields, tennis courts and all the public play areas where people can congregate. We haven’t done this lightly, but it’s a necessity to keep people from gathering in groups, which just goes against everything we’re trying to do right now.

These are all important steps. You’ve also been seeing some of the things I've been doing on Facebook with our props to ensure that people understand what physical distancing actually means.

We’ve also been increasing our patrols in parks and ensuring our staff are getting out there and reminding people that physical distancing is so important.

Are there any new changes to garbage pickup or recycling due to COVID-19?

Our garbage pickup and recycling pickup are still operating at 100% and will continue to do so, because we believe this is an important service. Our recycling depot remains open, but I should remind you that our white styrofoam collection has ceased for the present time, because the facility we send it to has closed.

I do remind you, though, that if you have sick people at home, tissues and any cleaner that you use to wipe up, please put them in a bag, then double bag, and tie those up before you put those in the garbage. That’s to protect our staff. Please keep doing what you’re doing. I know most people are doing this. Our Eco-Centre, our recycling depot, remains open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Will the City of Burnaby be deferring business property taxes?

We’re working with the province on this issue, not just for businesses but for residences. We need the province’s OK to do this, because many of the taxes we collect, roughly 50%, are actually going to other entities, such as Metro Vancouver, TransLink and the school tax. We collect payments on their behalf, so we need to have many discussions around how we can move this forward and certainly the province’s cooperation to do this.

But from the city’s perspective, we are pushing to defer those taxes a few months down the road, so it helps the businesses and the residents as we all work together to try and get through this crisis.

If businesses are not following physical distancing guidelines, what is the city’s response when you receive these reports?

When we receive these reports, we will send our staff out to remind businesses that physical distancing is just as important in the businesses as it is in our public spaces. We’ll keep going back until businesses get those messages of following provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s guidelines.

Also, WorkSafeBC, if it continues, will likely be paying them a visit to remind them that these distances have to be followed under the Workers Compensation Act as well.

So we do respond, and we do advise people within businesses, just like it is in our public spaces and public parks, physical distancing is just as important there.

Is the city going to implement a full-scale quarantine which requires people to stay in their homes?

Every action in our city is guided by our health-care professionals and Dr. Henry, who has done such a magnificent job through this. And so any full quarantine would have to come through Dr. Henry’s office. And certainly if they brought that down, we would ensure that the city was following those rules, as we do with everything. It’s not really advice anymore. She makes it very clear: It’s the law.

So if physical distancing measures like a quarantine were brought in, we would be following her law.

Will the city be closing Metropolis at Metrotown or any of the other malls in the city?

Again, we’re guided by our health-care professionals. At this time, they have not recommended that malls, or these types of businesses, are closed. We monitor to ensure that social distancing and social spacing is being followed within the malls.

From what I’ve seen, in many of these malls, most of these businesses have closed. So there’s lots of social distancing that I can see going on within the malls, and I know that continues. Currently, the businesses that are required to close include casinos; businesses with liquor-primary licences; bars, pubs and night clubs; and personal service establishments, such as salons and spas. So if any of those are situated within the malls, they are closed, and we will ensure that they are all closed as well.

Where can I donate medical supplies to front-line medical workers?

For this, we recommend reaching out to our COVID response team, through covid19@burnaby.ca. They will handle any of those generous offers and ensure that it gets into the right hands and to investigate if these offers are required, number 1, and if it meets the safety standards that are required by our medical health officer.

How do I get refunds for activities like swimming lessons?

Full refunds are available just by calling the city. You can get a refund for any remaining dates, your monthly pass, three-month pass or annual Be Active pass. It’s best to contact the community centre directly, and they are still answering calls. I know many people have received reimbursements for these classes.

They are still taking calls from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., so please call them to activate any reimbursement during those times.

What do I do if I see people entering closed facilities like basketball courts?

Again, please call our centre at 604-570-3800 or email covid19@burnaby.ca. We will follow this up, and we will contact you to confirm that we have received your complaint. But certainly, we respond strongly to any of these requests that we get.

I see construction workers in close proximity to one another. What is the city doing about construction sites?

Construction sites have been deemed by our medical officer that they should remain open at this time. So that’s come down from them. Certainly, when our inspectors are in the sites, they will be advising of the importance of physical distancing.

Also, WorkSafeBC, I know, sends many inspectors to these sites to ensure physical distancing rules are being followed at these sites. But because construction sites have been deemed by the provincial health officer to stay open at this time, we will keep trying to educate as best we can.

And they can continue to operate as long as it’s fewer than 50 people on one of those construction sites.

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