Terrace City Hall. (Terrace Standard photo)

City of Terrace calling on Province to take stricter social distancing measures

The City sent the Province a letter earlier this month with a number of recommendations

The City of Terrace is asking the Province to take even further steps when it comes to promoting social distancing measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Earlier this month the City emailed a letter to the Province expressing their concerns and asking for B.C. to undertake a number of stricter social distancing measures.

The City is asking that the Province: Reduce the maximum allowed gathering size from fifty to a much lower number; request that anyone flying into the Terrace-Kitimat Airport self-isolate for fourteen days; increase coordination efforts between provincial agencies, Northern Health, and local non-profits to ensure adequate supports are in place for the Province’s most vulnerable and to reduce day care operations to only provide child care for essential service workers.

As of this article’s publication the City says they have not heard back from the Province.

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At least one councillor took to social media to empathize with people upset that Terrace had not declared a local state of emergency. Coun. Sean Bujtas explained to constituents in a Facebook post that even if the City were to impose a restriction on something like gatherings over the size of five people, it would be superseded by the Province’s decree of no gatherings over 50 people.

Of the nine powers available to a city like Terrace when declaring a local state of emergency, he explained that only two — the power to control or prohibit travel to or from any area of B.C. and another relating to the power to procure, fix prices for or ration food, clothing, fuel, equipment, medical supplies or other essential supplies during an emergency — would apply in this situation.

And while some have suggested on social media that the Province or country should be issuing more intense domestic travel restrictions, Bujtas said he didn’t feel that was the way forward, noting how many smaller communities rely on the larger service area for support and stressing the importance of being good neighbours in these uncertain times.

“Kitsumkalum, Kitselas, Thornhill, Jackpine Flats, Usk, Rosswood, the Nass Valley, and Lakelse Lake all rely on Terrace for essential needs like groceries and medicine, and shutting them out from Terrace would be inhumane,” he said. “How we help one another during the pandemic will define who we are as a community.”

Even if the City did want to restrict travel, he noted Terrace does not have jurisdiction of highways and can not shut them down.

With regard to the second power, Bujtas said gas prices have been considerably lower than usual, food prices are static and that local grocery store management have indicated their supply chains remain strong.

On March 26 the Province announced, among a number of other new policies, that they would be banning the resale of food, medical supplies, personal protective equipment, cleaning products and other essential supplies, with fines of up to $10,000, a year in jail or both possible for violation of the order.

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