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Updates from Mayor Omer Moghrabi on the COVID-19 pandemic (updated March 25, 2020)

Post Date:03/25/2020 10:45 AM

Originally posted on Mayor Omer Moghrabi’s Facebook page on March 25, 2020

Lac La Biche County Council held its regular meeting yesterday. Among other things, we discussed COVID-19 and its impact on our community. I’d like to update you on this topic.

First, I want to address the fact that today’s meeting was open to the public. According to the Municipal Government Act and recent guidance from Municipal Affairs, we had to keep the meeting physically open to the public. This holds true even if we stream the meetings online (which Administration is working towards).

Second, Council modified the procedural bylaw (which directs how Council runs its meetings) with changes that will expire on September 30, 2020. All members can participate in meetings electronically—this used to only be permitted if there was quorum in the meeting room (along with the CAO). Councillors used to only be permitted to participate in three electronic meetings per year, but those restrictions are lifted. In addition, councillors can now participate in closed sessions electronically.

Public input sessions are also suspended to protect the health of residents and limit exposure to COVID-19. To clarify, the public is still allowed to attend public meetings. And even in cases where all of Council calls in for a meeting, Administration will pick a physical location for the public to listen to or view the meeting as the Municipal Government Act requires. The public can still get in touch with Council by many means, including email, phone, or registered presentations/delegations to Council (which can be delivered virtually).

Third, we were updated on the current state of the County’s business community, and how we can support them during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many in the community have lost their jobs, and businesses have been hurting. We discussed upcoming Economic Development Strategy workshops, which are happening virtually on March 30. Now more than ever, we need a long-term strategy that addresses business resiliency, diversification, and innovation to help our community recover after the pandemic passes. You can find details about the upcoming workshops on www.laclabichecounty.com.

Fourth, residents can contact the County by calling 780-623-1747 to see if they qualify to remove payment penalties on unpaid waste collection, natural gas, and water/sewer bills. Residents who qualify can defer payment on certain County services. However, I want to emphasize that it’s preferable for residents to continue to pay their bills each month, unless you’re confident that you can cover the cost of several months of bills down the road. Residents will continue to receive bills each month.

I can’t stress enough that we all must treat this global pandemic with the seriousness that it deserves. Wash your hands regularly. Practice good physical distancing. Limit your trips to town, and don’t hoard goods. There is more than enough supply for everyone if we purchase what we need without panicking.

Even though we’re physically distant from one another, offer to help your neighbours. Share your resources, or offer to shop for an elderly or vulnerable resident. And above all, follow all of the guidance that Alberta Health Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada provides.

I wish you all good health as we weather this pandemic together.

 

Originally posted on Mayor Omer Moghrabi’s Facebook page on March 20, 2020

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, County staff have spent the week working to ensure that essential services continue to be delivered to our residents.

Despite the recreation building and public office closures, many County staff are still working inside of our buildings, fielding resident phone calls, conducting maintenance on the Bold Center and Portage Pool, monitoring water quality, repairing vital County equipment, and much more. Workers have created safer environments by ramping up cleaning and disinfection, practicing social distancing, and self-isolating at home if they exhibit any cold or flu-like symptoms.

I’d like to thank all County staff for stepping up—your efforts have not gone unnoticed by both Council and our citizens.

I know that this pandemic has been hard on our community, Canada, and the rest of the world. We have all made sacrifices and tough choices as we care for ourselves and our loved ones. Families have struggled to find childcare, and many in our business community have suffered significant losses. Some of us have even lost our jobs.

But I’m confident that if we listen to the science (as found on www.albertahealthservices.ca), practice good hygiene and social distancing, and comply with government restrictions, we will come out of this crisis. I wish you all the best as we adjust to this new normal, and know that Lac La Biche County as an organization is doing everything we can to support you.

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