Calgary will extend its state of local emergency (SOLE) another 90 days, primarily to handle the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi made the announcement in a COVID-19 update Tuesday.
“Even though it feels like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel… Things are not great,” the mayor said.
“We’re not out of the woods yet.”
On Monday, there were 273 new cases of COVID-19 identified. There are now 324 peope in hospital, with 53 in intensive care. Eleven of the identified cases were of the new virus variants.
The mayor said one of the primary reasons for the SOLE extension was for vaccine distribution. He said it was important for the city to be agile enough to respond quickly when the provincial vaccination plan ramps up.
“We stand ready to help in whatever way we can,” the mayor said.
While Mayor Nenshi said he had questions about the vaccine schedule when it was rolled out, he said at least there was a schedule.
“There isn’t a single one amongst us that isn’t tired and there isn’t a single one of us amongst us that doesn’t feel a bunch of fatigue, that doesn’t ask themselves at least once, if not a million times a day. When is this going to be over?’”
Ensure the vaccine support is ready
Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Chief Sue Henry said the new SOLE was issued for 90 days, starting at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday.
While numbers are improving, cases counts in the Calgary local area as still high in some areas of the city. As the vaccines roll out, they want to continue to provide support to the province.
“These powers allow the city to remain agile and responsive to emerging needs,” Chief Henry said.
“They ensure prompt coordination of actions, all to protect the safety, health and welfare of Calgarians.”
Chief Henry said there would be further recreation centre openings beginning Feb. 25, but only for one-on-one training and minor sports training. The facilities can’t be booked for games or league play at this time.
All other indoor city recreation remains closed.
While signs of re-openings are encouraging, Chief Henry said it was important to continue abiding by public health rules to keep the virus at bay.
“We need to keep working together to slow the spread of COVID, to save lives and prevent further long-term economic impact to Calgary and Calgarians,” she said.
Fresh off a city committee’s approval of a tax cap on Calgary non-residential properties, more than 6,000 city businesses will also qualify for fee relief.
According to Mayor Nenshi, $1.5 million from the federal government and Western Economic Development Canada will be put towards the reduction of business improvement area fees for 2021. If a business is in one of these areas, it qualifies for relief.
“We’re very grateful for the opportunity to do some important things around our business improvement areas,” Mayor Nenshi said.
Some city businesses also received a boost to deliver services online as well.
The mayor also mentioned the Chinook Blast events around Calgary and that they were going on again this weekend.
“It really is a magnificent thing. And I gotta tell you, I was excited about the impact it was having on the local businesses,” he said.