The City of White Rock has been doing its part in attempting to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic by closing city and city-operated facilities –including city hall – to the public.
But it’s not ready to add the popular pier and promenade to that list – just yet.
However, it’s up to the public to act responsibly, Mayor Darryl Walker told Peace Arch News Thursday.
And that includes keeping a reasonable distance from others while out getting fresh air and exercise, he said.
Closures this past week have included Kent Street Activity Centre, White Rock Community Centre, Centennial Arena and the Centre for Active Living and the Landmark Pop-Uptown Gallery at Central Plaza.
The city works yard is also closed to the public, but staff there, at city hall and at other facilities can still assist people – with everything from paying bills to getting permits – by telephone or email, Walker said. City council meetings are still scheduled to continue every two weeks and are also live streamed on the city’s website (whiterockcity.ca).
“It’s very important that we try to maintain those services that make a city a city, whether it’s garbage collection or the presence of bylaw officers,” he said.
But he said city council has stopped short of restricting access to the pier and promenade, in spite of reports of large numbers of people packing these areas.
“We think that if people would be responsible in not getting too close to others, and observing the idea of social distancing we would still be able to keep our pier and promenade open,” Walker said.
He added that council has approved signage that will soon be appearing on the promenade, pier and Marine Drive to remind people of the correct practices to help minimize the spread of the virus. He noted that small restaurants and coffee shops operating on Marine Drive come under the purview of Fraser Health as far as health and safety regulations are concerned.
“We’ll also have bylaw officers down there talking to people about their responsibilities. We want to appeal to people’s common sense and better instincts.”
If that doesn’t work, Walker warned, “then we may have to go to a plan B – which could include closing the pier and promenade.”
But Walker said he doesn’t believe it will have to come to that, because he has greater faith in the people of White Rock.
“This is a time when we can show our true colours as a community,” he said.
“This is a time when we can look around us and ask questions of people – are they getting enough food, are they isolated, do they need our help? We need to make sure we take care of each other and show who we are as citizens of White Rock, citizens of B.C., citizens of Canada.”