It may be a while before the public is welcomed back inside City Hall due to ongoing renovations to the 57-year-old structure.
The building shut down to the public in late March due to the pandemic. Committee meetings, including city council meetings, have been held virtually. Contacting the city has been limited to email or phone.
City manager Allan Seabrooke said renovations to replace windows and insulation, as well as the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system will continue throughout the summer at City Hall. Discussion is underway on whether to reopen for access to staff during construction.
“It may not be here right at City Hall given the construction that is going on. We’re looking at alternatives for that in short order,” Seabrooke said.
During the pandemic people can listen and submit comments during virtual city council meetings, or provide comments in writing.
Even though the province now allows a maximum of 50 people to attend indoor gatherings, that does not apply to city councils, he said.
“Even if you were having live meetings with social distancing, the public is not permitted to physically be a part of that.”
Seabrooke said the city is waiting for the province to announce the next phase of the reopening.
Most of the city’s 1,600 employees continued their work throughout the pandemic. About 165 casual employees were laid off in March, and in late April another 150 employees received temporary layoff notices.
Seabrooke said the vast majority of city staff are already back to work as city recreation and cultural facilities reopen, or prepare to reopen.
“Over the last month or so they have been transitioning to opening and some of our indoor rec facilities are also transitioning to some openings over the next couple of weeks.”