Edmonton

Taking transit? Pick up a mask, City of Edmonton says

The City of Edmonton will hand out non-surgical masks to transit riders at four transit centres and three LRT stations starting Monday.

City giving out masks at 7 transit stations starting Monday when fares resume

Riders will start paying for public transit again on Monday. (David Bajer/CBC)

The City of Edmonton will hand out non-surgical masks to transit riders at four transit centres and three LRT stations starting Monday. 

The city will distribute 500,000 masks, interim city manager Adam Laughlin told council's emergency advisory committee on Thursday. 

Riders can pick up masks between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the following transit locations:

Transit centres

  • West Edmonton Mall
  • Mill Woods
  • Northgate
  • Century Park

LRT stations

  • Churchill
  • Clareview
  • Kingsway

Wearing a mask on transit is not mandatory, Laughlin said, but it is recommended when riders are unable to stay two metres apart.

The city will begin charging fares for public transit on Monday.

Also on Monday, the funicular will reopen with enhanced sanitation measures. 

Arenas, rec centres, libraries

Sports arenas and recreation centres will reopen starting in early July, but not all at once. 

Laughlin said the city won't be able to reopen all facilities this summer because of budgetary constraints related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Edmontonians will be able to attend outdoor fitness programs by registering, starting June 22. 

Edmonton Public Libraries will offer curb-side pick up in a phased reopening of the city's branches.

Pilar Martinez, executive director, said 30,000 items have been on hold for patrons since March. 

Martinez told council that libraries won't be charging late fees for now. 

Not making a splash

Coun. Bev Esslinger said she's been getting lots of queries from constituents to reopen spray parks and pools this summer. 

Rob Smythe, manager of citizen services, said the outdoor pools will not open. 

"The indoor pools — we'll scope it into our thinking," Smythe said. 

Coun. Ben Henderson pressed city administration to reconsider opening spray parks at least, if not outdoor pools. 

"I'm beginning to get questions about that too and I suspect they will heat up as the temperature heats up," Henderson said. 

Keeping water parks closed isn't fair, especially to lower income people with few other outdoor options in the summer, he suggested. 

"I'm just wondering with that equity lens if we're actually disadvantaging people who can't afford other choices." 

Laughlin said the city hasn't actually analyzed spray parks and pools yet, as they believed these facilities would fall under Stage 3 relaunch.

"Our original thinking with this is that we would have some time to work through it but in saying that, we can evaluate that," he said. 

Mayor Don Iveson said the city will look seriously at reopening the outdoor spray parks. 

"I've heard loud and clear from parents on that one," Iveson said. "I'm being lobbied very heavily in my own household around spray parks."

The city must review services and facilities carefully as it deals with millions in lost revenues from the past few months, Iveson said. 

"People are saying, 'Mow my grass, open the spray parks, open the rec centres tomorrow' and each one of those has a number, which may or may not be scary to council and the taxpayers to say we think we should do that," Iveson noted. "But all of them have cost implications." 

And when facilities are up and running, Edmontonians shouldn't let their guard down on physical distancing and sanitation, Iveson reminded.

"We're still tackling a pandemic in this province and we need to remain vigilant." 

@natashariebe

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