Langley City mayor Val van den Broek and Township mayor Jack Froese will meet with council on Monday to discuss plans about re-opening and easing restrictions. (Langley Advance Times file)

Langley City mayor Val van den Broek and Township mayor Jack Froese will meet with council on Monday to discuss plans about re-opening and easing restrictions. (Langley Advance Times file)

Langley mayors prepare to ‘safely open up’ amid COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. officials announced a four-phase restart plan Wednesday

Langley mayors are working on a plan to restart the City and Township safely after the province announced it will begin lifting restrictions starting mid-May.

On Wednesday, officials unveiled “BC’s Restart Plan” that will begin easing restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

READ MORE: COVID-19: B.C. prepares to restart more retail, services, offices in May

The announcement by the province has Langley mayors in talks with council about what it means for the municipalities.

“We don’t want to jump right into it,” said Langley City mayor Val van den Broek.

Both Langley City council and Township council are scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss next steps.

“As we get more information, we’ll be looking at ways that we can safely open up our playing fields and what we can do in our recreation centers, how we can make that work,” Langley Township mayor Jack Froese said.

READ MORE: Langley Township shuts down rec centres

B.C. is currently is phase one of the four phase restart plan where only essential services are operating.

Mid-May the province will implement phase two which will see the re-scheduling of elective surgeries and the re-opening of the retail sector, hair salons, in-person counselling, restaurants, parks, child care, parks and recreation “under enhanced protocols.”

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Should transmission rates remain low or continue to decline phase three will be implemented starting June to September, which would see broader opening of parks, resuming film production, select entertainment, and students returning to the classroom.

Finally, activating phase four would mean permitting activities that require large gatherings, such as concerts. But this final phase is conditional on “at least” a “wide vaccination,” “‘community’ immunity” or “broad successful treatment.”

The City and Township made the decision to close recreation centres, public playgrounds and city hall to foot traffic several weeks ago.

READ MORE: Langley City announces further closures to help stop COVID-19 spread

As a result of the closures Langley Township laid off 38 regular employees, and about 340 auxiliary, on-call, and seasonal employees.

“There’s not enough work for everyone. So we had to, unfortunately, layoff people that were in some of the hardest hit functions that the Township does,” said Froese.

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During the pandemic Township and City staff have been communicating with the public through social media channels and updates on their website.

Langley City has shared posts on its social media about events hosted online that can be accessed virtually. Most recently they shared a link for a live stream presentation hosted by an astronomer from the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.

Mayor van den Broek has also appeared on-camera offering messages of support for the community.

“We’re trying to keep in touch and continue to post online,” she said.

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The Township issued a statement Wednesday in response to the provincial announcement that says re-opening the community will require balancing the safety of people with the need to stimulate the economy.

For updates on the Langleys COVID-19 response visit langleycity.ca/covid-19 or call the Langley City COVID toll free number at 604-514-2848. For updates from the Township visit tol.ca/covid19/ or call the Township’s COVID hot line at 604-532-7599.


@JotiGrewal_
joti.grewal@blackpress.ca

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