The Province of BC has declared a State of Emergency in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. For up to date information, including provincial case counts and press statements, please go to the BC Centre for Disease Control website.
Additional information on available supports and health-related information can be found in the Resources section of this page, below.
Current COVID-19 Related City Service Impacts
The City of Prince Rupert would like to assure the community that we are taking steps to keep our facilities safe for the community and our staff as we continue to provide services during this global pandemic. Public health risk will be continually reassessed as we continue to receive information from provincial and federal health organizations and City services will be adjusted accordingly should the risk levels change. Impacts to different civic facilities are noted below.
The following steps are being taken across City Departments:
- Closure or limited access to all public-facing facilities and non-essential services. This includes City Hall, the Fire Department Customer Service area, Recreation Facilities, and our Public Works yard. Emergency services, including fire and police are not affected by this closure. For more details on specific departments, see below.
- Enhanced disinfecting measures within City facilities
- Direction to staff to observe good hygiene practices as recommended by health authorities, inclusive of regular handwashing, avoiding touching ones' face, and social distancing
- Cancellation of events programming in line with recommendations for social distancing
- Mandatory self-quarantining of any staff returning from travel outside of Canada
- Cancellation of any non-essential travel plans (ie. meetings, training)
- Movement of meetings to remote formats, using call-in/video conferencing formats
Operations (Including Public Works + Development Services
The City’s Operations Department has moved to essential service provision measures. Essential services are the minimum services required to maintain health and safety in the community. The Operations Department will reduce and rotate its staffing to provide safe work environments and uninterrupted service.
The following services will continue:
- Emergency services – including fire and police, with appropriate health protocols in place.
- Household garbage pick up and landfill services - residents are requested to clean/disinfect garbage can lids between pick ups.
- Emergency water and sewer repairs. For emergency repairs, call (250) 624 6795 and (250) 624 3000 after hours.
- Cemetery services. For cemetery services, call (250) 627 0960. Please leave a message if there is no answer and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
The following services will be provided in a more limited capacity, with physical distancing measures in place. Response times will also be impacted, as many staff are now attending the workplace on a rotational basis:
- Building inspections - (The City will only accept permits that we can inspect via photo, video, or drive- by. No in-person inspections will take place.)
- Essential Bylaw functions
- Other essential operations
- All recreation facilities, programming and events, including the Earl Mah Aquatic Centre (swimming pool and fitness centre) have been closed until further notice - with staff directed to conduct annual maintenance duties, potentially limiting the summer closure time this year;
Parks and Playgrounds
- Starting Monday, June 8th, the City has begun reopening parks and playgrounds. Once barriers such as caution tape, signs, or fencing are removed, the space will be inspected and then open for public use. Please note, that the playground equipment is not being cleaned or disinfected. Residents are reminded that they must follow the Provincial Health Officer Order’s and are encouraged to exercise caution when using Parks and tot lots. Continue to follow Provincial Health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by:
- Staying home if you feel unwell
- Washing and/or sanitizing hands before and after visiting facilities
- Keeping a safe physical distance and avoiding gatherings
- Parents can access additional information on appropriate health precautions via the BC Centre for Disease Control website, here: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19
- Starting Wednesday May 27th, City Hall will be accessible by appointment. Please call (250) 627 0960 or (250) 627 0950 to set up an appointment. In the interests of community and staff safety, only one customer will be permitted at a time. Note that alternate forms of payment to cash is preferred and residents are encouraged to use electronic means as much as possible.
- During the closure, there are many services that can be accessed online via our website at www.princerupert.ca. This includes:
- Resources and contact information for cemetery arrangements
- Development-related Permits and Applications (which can be submitted via the contact information at the top of the fillable form)
- Building Permit Applications (which can be submitted via the contact information at the top of the fillable form):
- Information on properties – including descriptions, etc. via our online GOMAP feature
- Opportunities to learn more/give feedback on civic initiatives through our Rupert Talks platform
- The City extended our deadline to qualify for the utility rate discount from March 31st to April 30th, 2020. City utility rate payers usually must pay utility fees by the end of March in order to qualify for a 10% discount to their bill, however this change has been made to accommodate the extraordinary circumstances. Please note that this extension will apply to this year (2020), only, and there is no extension to the deadline for property taxes.
- Alternative payment methods to in-person options are available - such as paying by cheque in the mailslot (delivered to City Hall on or before the due date) or online payment via your financial institution (contact your financial institution for more information). If you pay online via your financial institution, please make sure you do so at least 3 days before the deadline to ensure enough time for processing of payment.
- In accordance with current Provincial Orders, scheduled Regular Council Meetings have moved to a remote format for public access – available on Citywest Cable Channel 10/310, and live streaming at www.princerupert.ca/live. Videos of the City’s Council meetings are also posted to YouTube in the days following the meeting. In the interests of public health and safety, at this time no one will be permitted into City Hall to view in the gallery, in order to ensure we can maintain physical distancing requirements. Staff and Council attendance is also limited, with most calling in via conference.
The Prince Rupert Landfill is open subject to the following conditions:
- To contact landfill attendant, call (250) 624 5482 while on site
- Debit and credit cards accepted through the TAP function
- No cash or cheques
- Pin pad will be located on the side of the scale house for customer use
- Receipts will not be issued
- Allow for extra wait times to permit safe physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet)
- Dispose of garbage as quickly and safely as possible
- Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4:45 pm (After Monday March 30th)
- Saturday 10:00 am to 3:45 pm
- Illegal dumping is an offense that will be prosecuted. Refuse left throughout the community will pose a significant risk to overall health and safety for residents.
Prince Rupert Airport
Following the cancellation of Air Canada flights to Prince Rupert during the month of April, the Prince Rupert Airport is now reduced to essential service levels. This includes access for emergency medical evacuations, runway maintenance, and our ability to receive supplies will continue to be maintained. To accommodate the reduced number of staff that will be travelling to and from the airport, the airport ferry will run on a reduced schedule. In addition, airport ferry staff will be on call to accommodate other emergency needs as they arise.
- For more information, see the full joint notice from the Airport Authority and City, here: http://princerupert.ca/joint_statement_airport_authority_and_city_regarding_continuation_essential_airport_services_2020
- Bus rides will be free for the remainder of March until June 1st. Refunds on March bus passes will not be available.
- Please call (250) 627 0960 or (250) 627 0950 to set up an appointment at City Hall to purchase a bus pass from June onwards.
- BC Transit has implemented enhanced cleaning measures for their fleet of buses to prevent potential spread via transit. More information from BC Transit noting measures that are in place is posted, here: https://www.bctransit.com/covid19
Non-City Services and Facilities
- As of May 14th, the North Coast Regional District has reopened it's recycling facility, and is operating with regular business hours. Staff would like to request that when individuals drop of recycling that the pre-sort materials and adhere to any other procedures as directed at the depot.
- See the full release from the Regional District for more information and updates: https://www.ncrdbc.com/about-us/news-notices/ncrd-recycling-depot-reopened
Regional District Office
- The Regional District Office has now closed to the public and services will be by appointment only. Appointments can be made by contacting the office directly at: (250) 624-2002; email@example.com
- See the full release from the Regional District for more information and updates: https://www.ncrdbc.com/about-us/news-notices/ncrd-programming-covid-19
- The public library has been closed to the public until further notice, but the starting Monday, June 1st the Book Bin (outside library, bottom of ramp) will open at 10 am for library item returns only. The library requests that you do not put any book donations in the book bin at all, as we are still not accepting donations and anticipate a lot of returns to start. Holds may be placed online via an online account (if set up to do so) at any time. Please direction questions to: 250-627-1345, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or send the library a Facebook message.
Prince Rupert Archives
The Prince Rupert Archives will be closed to the public until further notice. Archives will continue to provide services remotely. You can reach them by email at: email@example.com or by telephone at (250) 624-3326.
Museum of Northern BC
- The Museum of Northern BC has been closed until further notice.
Prince Rupert Senior's Centre
- The Prince Rupert Senior's Centre has been closed until further notice.
Health Authority Resources
Municipal governments are guided by the direction of local, provincial and federal health authorities on matters related to public health. Residents seeking up to date information on the situation as it develops should follow Northern Health via their website and on social media and/or see the resources below.
For further information from health authorities across different levels of government, check out the following resources.
Northern Health has developed a helpful booklet as a resource for communities. For answers to many of your Frequently Asked Questions and more, follow the link (which will be updated as more information is available).
If you are unsure whether you need to self-isolate, self-monitor, or get tested for COVID-19, please call Northern Health’s COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line at 1-844-645-7811
Before you seek testing for COVID-19:
1) Use the new, online self-assessment tool to see if you need testing: https://covid19.thrive.health/
2) Call the 8-1-1 or your health care provider BEFORE you go to the clinic so they can be prepared for your test and take steps to keep staff and other patients safe.
Other options for health information and advice continue to be available, including calling your primary care provider, or contacting HealthLink BC (8-1-1) at any time.
Health Link BC online resources (includes answers to commonly asked questions): https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-feature/coronavirus-disease-covid-19
The BC Centre for Disease Control: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/coronavirus-(novel)
- The Federal Department of Health: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html
- The World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Support Resources for Residents and Businesses
- BC Restart Plan: The Province has released a phased approach to the reopening of businesses, services, and public spaces impacted by the pandemic, with safety protocols in place. For more information, follow this link.
- Federal Economic Response Program: On March 18th the Federal Government announced a host of measures to provide financial relief to Canadian residents and businesses. For more information on all available supports, follow this link.
- Mortgage Payment Assistance: There are now options through lenders and the CMHC to access up to a 6 month deferral of your mortgage. For advice on what to do if you are concerned with paying your mortgage, check out this CMHC resource.
- Income Supports:
- Employment Insurance: If you are sick or are forced to stay home, the federal government has waived the one-week waiting period for EI and has also waived the requirement for a doctor's note. For more information about how to apply, check out their website.
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit: The government established the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to support workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This taxable benefit provides $2,000 every four weeks for up to four months to workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are administered through the CRA via the My CRA online account here.
- BC Emergency Benefit for Workers: The BC Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a one-time $1,000 payment to people who lost income because of COVID-19. More information is available, here.
- Pausing of Canada and BC Student Loan Repayment: To support student and apprentice loan borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal and Provincial governments have paused the repayment of BC Student Loans, Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans until September 30, 2020, with no accrual of interest. More information can be found, here.
- Eviction Freezes and Rental Subsidies:
- Provincial funding for housing supports have been increased.
- BC Housing has temporarily suspended evictions of tenants in subsidized and affordable housing due to non-payment of rent.
- A freeze on evictions during the State of Emergency through the Residential Tenancy Branch. More information for tenants and landlords is here.
- Child Care Benefit: The Federal government has proposed an increase to the Child Care Benefit. More information is available here.
- Income Tax Payment Deferral: If you will owe personal income tax this year, payments can now be deferred until August. (However, if you think you will receive the GST credit or Canada Child Benefit, do not delay filing to make sure you get what you are entitled to this year.)
- Increase to BC's Climate Action Tax Credit: A one-time enhancement to the climate action tax credit will be paid in July 2020 for moderate to low-income families:
- An adult will receive up to $218.00 (increased from $43.50)
- A child will receive $64.00 (increased from $12.75)
- Business-Specific Supports:
- WorkSafe BC Resources: WorkSafe BC has developed a number of resources to help businesses in BC keep their employees and customers safe. For more information on safe operation, follow this link.
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy: The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) supports employers that are hardest hit by the pandemic, and generally covers 75% of an employee's wages – up to $847 per week - for employers of all sizes and across all sectors who have suffered a drop in gross revenues of at least 15% in March, and 30% in April and May. The program will be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020. For more information on this program, check out this link.
- Federal Wage Subsidy: The Federal government will provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. For more information on this program, check out this link.
- Changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Program: The Federal Government has made temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program to allow employers to: receive an increased wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee; extend the end date for employment to February 28, 2021; adapt their projects and job activities; hire staff on a part-time basis. For more information on this program, check out this link.
- Deferred Business Tax Filing: The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. For more information, check out this link.
- Business Credit Availability Program: The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. Additional business credit is also available through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada For more information, check out this link.
- BC Hydro Customer Assistance: BC Hydro has launched a COVID19 Customer Assistance Program to allow you to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty. Call 1-800-224-9376 to discuss with them. In addition, if you are now facing financial hardship due to job loss, illness, or loss of a family member, you may also be eligible for BC Hydro's Customer Crisis Fund up to $600. More information is available here.
- ICBC Assistance: Customers on a monthly payment plan who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19 may defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty
Ways to Help Your Fellow Community Members
Although due to threats of COVID-19 we may all be taking precautionary steps to 'social distance' physically, this does not make us less of a community. How we work together will also help us have greater capacity and resilience to manage should any cases of the virus show up in Prince Rupert. Given the need to band together, we as a community have an opportunity to support one another and the health care system we all rely on during this time.
- Where you can, look to reduce potential strain on our medical system. Unless you are in need of medical assistance, avoid visiting the local hospital and doctor's offices if you can;
- Northern Health has launched a COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line to help answer questions and concerns from Northern BC residents. The NH COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line can be reached at 1-844-645-7811. This Information Line, Public Healthlink at 811, or your primary care provider are other options for health information;
- If you do need to visit the hospital or doctor's office, ensure you follow any posted medical advice in their facilities - and follow best practice when it comes to thoroughly washing your hands and keeping a safe distance from others;
- If you are aware of people in the community who may already be self-isolating due to pre-existing conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus or have returned from a trip that requires them to self-isolate - reach out to ask if they need assistance picking up vital supplies or medicine, and check in on them with a phone call or message to help reduce potential feelings of anxiety/loneliness;
- If you are friends or neighbours with a doctor or nurse, you can also check in with them to see if they need additional support. Our medical professionals will be working hard to monitor for any changes in local conditions, and simple things like feeding/walking their pets or other offers of support (even thanks!) may be appreciated;
- Though we understand the need to be prepared, do not overstock essential household goods, which may limit available resources for others in need;
- Events like this hit hardest for people in need - if you can, donate to the local Food Bank at the Salvation Army;
- If a local arts/culture/sporting event is cancelled or you prefer not to attend, and it is not too much of a financial burden for you, consider donating the cost of your ticket/entrance fee. Local service organizations in various sectors of our community are likely to be hard hit by cancellations of fundraising events that they rely on to keep their programs operating;
- Many local businesses have had to suspend or downgrade services and/or operating hours. If you find yourself being tempted by online shopping while stuck at home, see if there is a local option from a store that will deliver;
- If you know parents that are struggling to think of things to do at home or in town with their children - share your ideas or plans with one another for craft projects or other activities that kids can do to stay busy (and help keep both kids and parents sane!);
Prince Rupert has been through a lot together, and we know helping each other comes naturally to our residents. We are all in this together!