Lac La Biche County Mayor Omer Moghrabi, on behalf of the municipal council issued a further update this morning on the COVID-19 pandemic and the local impact.
The mayor included updates on the protocols of council and how council meetings and municipal business will continue through the pandemic by digital means, with councillors participating electronically instead of in-person. While that format would halt public input sessions at upcoming meetings, the mayor said the public is still allowed to see or hear meetings.
"To clarify, the public is still allowed to attend public meetings. And even in cases where all of Council calls in for a meeting, Administration will pick a physical location for the public to listen to or view the meeting as the Municipal Government Act requires," said Moghrabi. "The public can still get in touch with Council by many means, including email, phone, or registered presentations/delegations to Council — which can be delivered virtually."
The mayor has also placed emphasis on supports for community members and the area's struggling business community.
"We were updated on the current state of the County’s business community, and how we can support them during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many in the community have lost their jobs, and businesses have been hurting," noted the mayor, adding that an upcoming workshop planned before the pandemic will hopefully give area business owners and managers some strategies. "We discussed upcoming Economic Development Strategy workshops, which are happening virtually on March 30. Now more than ever, we need a long-term strategy that addresses business resiliency, diversification, and innovation to help our community recover after the pandemic passes."
Registration fo the economic development workshop can be found here.
Utility payment options
The mayor is also suggesting residents attempt to continue paying utility bills — if they can. He said there are options to defer payments — much like banks and other lending institutions have announced — but stressed that residents should try to keep their payment schedules.
"Residents can contact the County by calling 780-623-1747 to see if they qualify to remove payment penalties on unpaid waste collection, natural gas, and water/sewer bills," he said. "Residents who qualify can defer payment on certain County services. However, I want to emphasize that it’s preferable for residents to continue to pay their bills each month, unless you’re confident that you can cover the cost of several months of bills down the road. Residents will continue to receive bills each month."
The mayor also encouraged the community to take precautions seriously, and to treat each other with respect.
"I can’t stress enough that we all must treat this global pandemic with the seriousness that it deserves. Wash your hands regularly. Practice good physical distancing. Limit your trips to town, and don’t hoard goods. There is more than enough supply for everyone if we purchase what we need without panicking," he said. "Even though we’re physically distant from one another, offer to help your neighbours. Share your resources, or offer to shop for an elderly or vulnerable resident. And above all, follow all of the guidance that Alberta Health Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada provides."
The mayor closed his update with a message of good will.
"I wish you all good health as we weather this pandemic together."
The full version of Moghrabi's update can be found here.