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City of Burlington Cancels Spring Programs and Extends Closures

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*Please see below a media release issued by the City of Burlington. Click here for a complementary Statement from Burlington Mayor Meed Ward.

Burlington, Ont. — March 30, 2020 — Due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, the City of Burlington has decided to suspend all City-run spring programs and extend the closure of all recreation facilities, parks, playgrounds, sports fields and City administration facilities to the end of June.

During this time, all bookings will be cancelled, and credits will be placed on accounts. Refunds will be issued based on requests. Organizations and residents are asked to please be patient during this time as we process these cancellations. Questions related to rentals can be sent to rentals@burlington.ca. For registrations, email liveandplay@burington.ca.

This decision, made by the City’s Emergency Control Group, follows the guidance of the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada and the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health to prepare and plan for the months ahead. The City of Burlington regularly plans in quarters, including Council’s 4-year strategic workplan, Vision to Focus. We need to make decisions now that affect programming weeks and months out, to provide some certainty to our community and to our many community partners.

“Over the last few weeks our focus and priority has been on dealing with the immediate impacts of COVID-19 which has included meeting daily and taking specific actions based on analysis of virus spread and in partnership with public health. Clearly, we now need to look ahead and make decisions that are in best interests of our community and staff. We still need to do all we can to prevent the spread of the virus and continue to deliver our essential services in addition to providing certainty and stability for the next several months. We remain committed to strong financial management and ensuing we have adequate resources to meet this challenge.” — Tim Commisso, Burlington City Manager

We are asking everyone to remember they have a role to play in slowing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Please continue to keep out of park facilities including:
    • playgrounds,
    • sports fields,
    • skate parks,
    • dog off-leash areas and
    • community gardens.
  • If you need some fresh air and activity, it’s okay to walk, cycle or jog through our parks, but please do not linger.
  • Stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from everyone else in the park or on a trail.
  • Please take your waste home with you to dispose of it.

During this extended closure we will continue to maintain our essential services and those services that provide direct support to keep our residents and staff safe. These include areas such as Burlington Fire, Burlington Transit including Handi-Van, Traffic Services, ByLaw Enforcement, Roads, Parks and Forestry Operations, Building Inspections and ServiceBurlington.

With this announcement we want to assure residents that the business of the City will continue during this critical time. Our staff that are able, are continuing to work from home to maintain City services such as Community Planning, City Capital Works and various Corporate Services.

During this unprecedented time, we are continually looking at ways for us to work more efficiently and to use taxpayer dollars wisely. We have already put in place spending restraints on all non-essential purchases during this time and will look to utilize our staff where we can instead of outsourcing.

The majority of the City’s expenditures is paying our hard-working employees and we must continue to ensure we have the staff needed to get us through these challenging times. This means we will maintain our full-time staff workforce. They will continue to work remotely during this period or be redeployed where possible into essential service areas. We are also aware of other organizations that may need assistance, like the Region of Halton, where we may be able to redeploy staff.

For our part-time staff, we will look at various options including evaluating government assistance programs being offered by the provincial and federal governments.

Once we have looked at options for our staff, as a last resort we will also consider layoffs as required.

We also know we’re not going to be back to 100 per cent on Day 1 after this pandemic has ended. We have to set the expectations for ourselves as a City and the public that it won’t be business as usual the first day we’re back from this. However, having plans in place for the next three months means we’ll be able to get back on our feet, operating at 100 per cent again that much sooner.

This situation is evolving every hour and we are continually monitoring. The City of Burlington will continue to keep you informed.

MAYOR MEED WARD’S TAKE:

This decision is absolutely necessary to protect the health and well-being of our employees and our community, as we plan for the best but prepare for the worst.

COVID-19 numbers are still rising in our City through community spread. So we must continue to work towards flattening the curve through social and physical distancing and staying home. That means we can’t gather together at recreation facilities, community centres, sports fields and parks.

We don’t know exactly how long this situation is going to last. By planning ahead, we can redirect resources where most needed, put non-essential projects on hold, and remain agile enough to open things up earlier if the situation changes. And once this is over, we will come together again as a community to celebrate. Let’s each do our part to get through this, healthy and whole.

PLEASE NOTE: To stay updated on what the City of Burlington is doing regarding COVID-19, please visit the dedicated pages burlington.ca/coronavirus (and subscribe) and bit.ly/mayormeedwardCOVID19updates, and our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that will be updated as new information becomes available.

HELPFUL RESOURCES & RELATED LINKS:

*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist

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