Kitchener council to discuss recovery plan, reopening frame work on Monday

Kitchener city council will be discussing the city's next steps in the COVID-19 pandemic Monday. Councillors will looks at the city's recovery plan and a reopening frame work for the rest of 2020.

Report looks at reopening city of Kitchener in four stages

City councillors are set to discuss what Kitchener's reopening phase will look like for the remainder of 2020.

Kitchener city council will meet Monday to discuss the city's next steps in recovery and reopening of facilities and services.

A report set to go before a special council meeting looks at the city's recovery plan, which outlines a roadmap to resume city programs and services, as well as the reopening of facilities and allowing staff to go back to work safely.

After the city declared a state of emergency on March 25, close to 900 staff were put on emergency leave, according to Kitchener mayor Berry Vrbanovic. A COVID-19 recovery plan was soon in the works by late April.

"We've been focusing on safe and sustainable service delivery for the past while and now we're in recovery mode that is consistent with the province's recovery plan, which is in phase one of the provincial reopening framework," Vrbanovic told CBC News.

The City of Kitchener offers more than 200 services out of more than 70 buildings and facilities, and measures like physical distancing and reduced number of people allowed in a facility at a time will be part of the plan long term, Vrbanovic adds.

And not all city facilities or services will open at the same time, according to the report.

Many will require a custom plan to reopen safely, time and resources for staff to create a reopening plan and may need additional funding to implement new safety measures.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Reopening in 4 phases

The city began ramping up its recovery plan in May, by redeploying some staff and relaxing restrictions to community gardens, trails, some parks and open spaces. 

The province recently announced it would extended its emergency orders until June 19.

If passed, Kitchener's reopening will happen in four stages, the report said, and will coincide with what the province and public health will allow. 

Phase one started mid May and goes until mid June. It looks at:

  • Reopening select workplaces that can meet public health guidelines, like the Farmers' Market
  • Opening some outdoor spaces like: parks, dog parks some golf courses and basketball courts.
  • Working from home arrangements should continue 
  • Protecting city's vulnerable population and public health restrictions and measures will continue

Phase two is set to start mid June to mid July. It looks at:

  • Reopening more workplaces with significant mitigation plans such as: some community centres and facilities and city hall open by appointment.
  • Opening more outdoor spaces like: some sports fields, playground and splash pads (if the province allows). 
  • Allowing some large public gatherings (if the province allows). 
  • Working from home arrangements should continue if feasible
  • Protecting city's vulnerable population and public health restrictions and measures to continue

Vrbanovic said staff will begin to focus on other sectors over the summer months such as restaurants, food trucks, small businesses and the arts and culture sector.

Phase three has two sections. Section A looks at mid July to mid September. It looks at:

  • Opening all work places with protocols in place, if the province allows. Arenas and pools will have a phased approach to reopening. Additional community centres will be allowed to open. 
  • More relaxation on public gathering (if province allows). 
  • Protecting city's vulnerable population and public health restrictions and measures to continue

Section B, set to start mid September to December, focuses on reopening more indoor facilities, programs and events.

However, the report said those specifics will be decided at a later date based on the effectiveness of section A and whether there may be a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall.

Phase four looks at 2021 and beyond, focusing on reopening all sport fields, municipal buildings and facilities — assuming a treatment for COVID-19 is available and remaining restrictions are lifted by the province, the report stated.

Signs like this one are posted at municipal buildings throughout Waterloo region reminding people on how to stop the spread of germs during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

With files from CBC's Kate Bueckert