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Calgary coronavirus briefing – April 17: Beefed up enforcement, no tickets for street sweeping… yet

More than 11,000 COVID-19-related 311 calls have been logged with the City of Calgary since March 6, with nearly 1,000 of those in the past seven days.

In Friday’s City of Calgary coronavirus briefing, Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Tom Sampson talked about some of the concerns they’re hearing from the public.

Sampson said they’ve had complaints about park closures because people were exiting cars too close. He mentioned barbecues or campfires that turned into events where people are crammed together in a backyard.

“I’m asking you to try and stay away from others. That’s what we need to do,” he said.

“People will say the curve is flattening. I’m not happy with how flat it is. And I hope you’re not either in terms of where we can be.”

Mayor Nenshi said that as the weather progressively warms in the coming days, more parks and bylaw personnel will be out to ensure Calgarians are taking the proper precautions.

“Yes, you’re going to see more of a presence in places where people congregate,” said Mayor Nenshi. He said the goal is education, though, not enforcement.

One of the areas that will see more presence are the city’s dog parks.

“Really we’re, frankly, investigating whether off leash dog parks can still be safe. And to really see what kind of behavior people are undertaking,” he said.

Sampson said nearly 20 per cent of the city’s COVID-19-related 311 calls this week were on improper physical distancing.

In terms of doling out tickets, Sampson said, “I would say we’re looking at the egregious violators. That’s what we’re looking to deal with.”

Bylaw officers haven’t yet ticketed anyone, said Sampson.

You won’t be ticketed for street sweeping – yet

Calgary’s roads director, Troy McLeod said the city’s residential spring street sweeping program would begin on Monday. They’ve already been working on major routes, bikeways and pathways, and now they’ll be into community cleaning.

McLeod said they need Calgarians to move their cars to give sweepers a clear path.

They will be tightening up the time that people should move their cars. The typical 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. signs will still be out there. But, residents can move their car just before the sweeper arrives and replace it just after. You can get more information on the street sweeping plans at Calgary.ca/sweep, including a real time view.

“The other thing that we will be doing is enforcement along with those vehicles that are remaining, but we will not be issuing any tags,” McLeod said.

“You’ll have the opportunity to sweep that street sweeping up later into a double bag into the black bin.”

They will be taking license plate numbers and inspecting come July. If it’s not cleaned up by that time, residents could face a fine.

McLeod said they’ve reached out to several community associations and area rec centres. They hope to open parking spaces in their lots for people that need to move vehicles. You can also park in the alleyways until the sweeper passes, McLeod said.

When you gotta go, you gotta go – but where you going to go?

Mayor Nenshi said right now there’s a big issue with the closure of many public places – particularly in the downtown, where some people experiencing homelessness are left without places to go to the bathroom.

He talked about this as an opportunity to broach deeper issues, like how to solve this problem long term.

“The simpler answer is, we’re looking at a number of different ways to make sure that folks have somewhere to go during the day,” he said.

The mayor said they’re talking about giving people at the convention centre places to spend the day and working with shelter providers to ensure there’s access during the day.

“That is something that is under consideration right now, the challenge in doing that, of course, is you want to make sure you’re doing it in a way that still allows people to be physically distance,” Mayor Nenshi said.