E-scooters to return to Calgary, transit to stay despite COVID-19 challenges, Nenshi says

Electric scooters are coming back to Calgary and transit is staying, despite ridership dropping dramatically during the pandemic.

City looks ahead to potentially reopening some businesses

Mayor Naheed Nenshi, shown in this file photo, says rental e-scooters will be returning to Calgary streets. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Electric scooters are coming back to Calgary and transit is staying, despite ridership dropping dramatically during the pandemic.

As of Friday, there will be a maximum of 300 e-scooters around the city available for rent from two companies, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said as he and Calgary Emergency Management Agency chief Tom Sampson gave an update on the city's COVID-19 response on Thursday afternoon.

He reminded people there are fines for inconsiderate riding and asked riders to be careful to sanitize their hands.

And although Edmonton's mayor has discussed potentially parking public transit for the summer, Calgary won't follow suit, Nenshi said.

He said he considers public transit to be an essential service. Although it's bleeding money due to reduced ridership, Nenshi noted that around 100,000 people still use the service daily.

Lime electric scooters will once again be available for rent in Calgary, starting Friday. (Rachel MacLean/CBC)

Meanwhile, the city is still struggling with an outbreak at its recycling sorting plant, which has forced the plant to work at half capacity and divert recyclables to the landfill.

Nenshi urged Calgarians to keep their recyclables home until the situation has been resolved.

The city is now looking ahead to Friday's announcement from the province, which will determine whether more restrictions will loosen.

Calgary is now a week behind the rest of the province except Brooks in the reopening strategy.

While the rest of Alberta moved to Phase 1 of the relaunch last week, Calgary and Brooks moved more slowly due to their higher concentrations of COVID-19 cases.

Nenshi criticized the province for backtracking on the planned reopening of restaurant dining rooms and hair salons, among other businesses, in Calgary with less than a day's notice.

"I didn't think businesses were, in fact, given enough notice," Nenshi said at the news conference. "Businesses can't start and stop on a dime."

He said he was glad the Alberta government promised this time that it would give the businesses the weekend to prepare either way.

Team sports unlikely, mayor says

Stage 2 likely won't follow for several weeks, the mayor said, but it will include day camps with restricted capacity. He said the city has been asking sports leagues to consider offering physically distanced skills camps.

"For the majority of sports, I don't see actual league play and team play happening this summer," Nenshi said.

As for CFL games, Nenshi said he hopes the league can find a way to hold games later in the year.

"Anything's possible, but today, too early to tell," he said.

He said filling a stadium as normal would depend on medical treatments and vaccine development.

As pandemic uncertainty continues, Sampson noted that some criminals have tried to take advantage of people's financial difficulties.

He said a text message scam has been circulating that impersonates the City of Calgary and offers money to help offset pandemic costs.

Sampson said you can tell it's a scam because the city does not use a Hotmail account.

"These are written by the most dastardly people," he said.


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