Kitchener Council endorses next stage of Kitchener Reopens plan
Stage 3 Reopening With Flexibility And Caution.
KITCHENER – Yesterday evening, Council approved the next stage of the Kitchener Reopens recovery plan, which is in alignment with the Province’s Stage 3 framework. Stage 3B, which outlines the modified fall and winter amenities, programs and services that will gradually be available to Kitchener residents, includes a range of recreation programming geared specifically toward children and youth, older adults and vulnerable populations.
On June 8, 2020, Council approved a comprehensive recovery plan, which included a staged framework for how the City will gradually and safely resume many of its 200 services. While the June 2020 document includes plans for a Stage 3B component, those plans were not fully detailed. Stage 3B was left incomplete so that, closer to the fall, staff could assess the community’s collaborative pandemic response, ongoing COVID-19 transmission rates, and the latest provincial and public health directions, prior to making decisions about fall and winter programs and services.
“The plan for Stage 3B strikes an important and delicate balance between providing needed and valued programs and services to residents while also ensuring that their safety and well-being, and that of our staff, remains our highest priority,” said Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “I’m very pleased to see the recognition in this plan that, as we head toward the fall and winter, that it’s going to be increasingly important to provide programs and services to Kitchener residents to support mental health, wellbeing, and connection throughout those seasons.”
Aside from specific programming for children, youth, older adults and vulnerable populations, examples of fall programs and services that are new, or expected to resume, include: crossing guards returning to their duties, some indoor and outdoor programming resuming at community centres, increased access to arenas for sports groups and, subject to gathering limits, increased availability of facility rentals including pools and the Victoria Park Pavilion.
This winter, for example, it is anticipated that ice rinks will open in neigbhourhood parks, limited Neighbourhood Association programming will return to community centres and staff will explore alternatives for a winter Kitchener Market. Additionally, warming centres, to be used during extreme cold events, will be identified and opened as needed and events, including Christkindl and New Year’s Eve, will be modified or will occur online. All programs or events involving public participation will require pre-registration, with no drop-ins permitted for the foreseeable future.
“People are increasingly becoming focused on when things will go back to normal. While we’re not there yet, this latest phase in our recovery plan allows for more valued programs and services, that everyone can enjoy, to safely reopen and resume,” said Councillor Kelly Galloway-Sealock, chair of the City’s Community and Infrastructure Services Committee. “At the same time, the plan is manageable enough to ensure that we can remain agile to adapt quickly in the event of increased community spread or changes in provincial direction.”
Aside from resuming additional programs and services for the fall and winter, Stage 3B also includes the direction that City staff who can effectively work from home will continue to do so throughout October, November, and December – a recommendation which is in alignment with the Province’s direction that, staff should continue to work from home as long as possible.
City staff continue to provide timely and convenient customer service and will continue to be accountable for their daily work through workforce tracking measures. Additionally, citizens can more easily access City services and staff in new and innovative ways including more services now being available online, City Hall being open for appointment-based services, through accessing the City’s 24-7 Corporate Contact Centre for information and to report issues, and via technology that ensures staff can conduct necessary meetings with customers and access and respond to their inquiries to their City phone lines, from home.
The full details of Stage 3B of the City’s Recovery Plan, which will be subject to change as further information becomes available this fall and winter, and as further direction is received from the province and public health, are available on the City’s website at link below.