First of all, let me thank the writer for expressing his thoughts and feelings. On White Rock council, we want to hear from all residents and business people and know that many have struggled during COVID-19 with a variety of issues, ranging from health, to isolation, to personal finances, lease payments and the impact of closures on small businesses.
From the moment council heard about the declaration of a global pandemic, we began meeting weekly to ensure we could move quickly to make any necessary changes.
We closed parks and city buildings in the interest of public safety, and closed the pier, parking, and the promenade. We connected with the White Rock BIA and the White Rock and Surrey Chamber of Commerce. We continue to be on regular calls with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and with our MLA in Victoria and our MP in Ottawa.
We extended the penalty-free period for municipal taxes to Sept. 30, 2020. We provided credits for patio licence fees, delayed the due date for business licences, offered free parking to health care workers at Peace Arch Hospital, honoured parking decals from 2019, expanded parking for takeout in response to our business needs, reopened the promenade when it was safe to do so, and then reopened White Rock’s pier and public parking. We added picnic tables on the East Beach, Memorial Park and Five Corners to help residents and businesses.
We are also looking at the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 with the help of the White Rock COVID-19 Recovery Task Force.
These were important decisions that required teamwork and quick action. Nothing about COVID-19 is easy, but this council and city staff have consistently kept the best interests of this community and our local businesses in mind.
We wish we could do more.
That said, we continue to be grateful to our health care providers, to the Province of B.C. and for the leadership of Dr. Bonnie Henry, our provincial health officer, to our provincial and federal representatives and for the caring and patience of the extraordinary people of White Rock.
We truly will get through this together.
Darryl Walker, City of White Rock mayor