In a bid to further ensure the well-being of the Innisfail community and its residents in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of Innisfail declared a state of local emergency Friday, March 20.
The declaration, which took effect at 2:50 p.m., will allow the Town access to additional resources and supports in light of the ongoing global concern. The move will also allow for enhanced intergovernmental coordination and give the Town the ability to exercise special authority in the interest of public safety, if needed.
As the situation continues to unfold — with updates and developments occurring frequently — the declaration positions the Town well to respond to any further associated issues that may arise.
“Given what we’re seeing around the globe and now closer to home, it is of critical importance to have safeguards in place to ensure our citizens remain well protected and have continued access to vital municipal services at this time,” said Mayor Jim Romane. “While the ongoing situation continues to affect us all, we appreciate the efforts Innisfailians have made to protect both themselves and their neighbours, and as a municipality will continue to demonstrate the same level of commitment toward the care and well-being of our community.”
While Alberta Health Services (AHS) reported that there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Innisfail as of Thursday, March 19, it noted on its website that the provincewide risk of exposure “may increase in the coming weeks.”
In response, the Town on Monday, March 16, activated its Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) — described by the Alberta Emergency Management Agency as a community’s “nerve centre” in a time of crisis. Members of the ECC — comprised primarily of senior Town staff — convene multiple times daily to work toward the objectives of the Town’s Business Continuity Plan, which outlines the actions and provisions necessary for the continuation of critical and high-priority municipal services.
Your questions answered
What is a state of local emergency and when is it declared?
According to Section 21(1) of the Alberta Emergency Management Act, “a local authority may, at any time when it is satisfied that an emergency exists or may exist in its municipality, by resolution […] make a declaration of a state of local emergency relating to all or any part of the municipality.”
Doing so affords the municipality the ability to exercise a number of special powers in accordance with the Alberta Emergency Management Act — as deemed necessary and based on the nature and severity of the situation. It also allows the Town to more efficiently coordinate with other levels of government in responding to the situation.
How will this affect me and the community?
While the Alberta Emergency Management Act enables the Town to impose restrictions around public access to buildings, facilities and community spaces, no such restrictions are currently being considered beyond those which have already been implemented and/or mandated by the Town and other levels of government. The Town has already closed all municipally operated facilities (including the Town Office) to the public until further notice.
Spaces and facilities currently affected by restrictions imposed at the provincial level include: Gyms, swimming pools, arenas, science centres, museums, art galleries, libraries, community centres, children’s play centres, casinos, racing entertainment centres, bingo halls, bars and nightclubs. The Government of Alberta has also imposed maximum capacity restrictions around attendance at restaurants, coffee shops and other public gathering spaces. More information on this is available at alberta.ca/covid19.
Further community impacts arising from the Town’s state of emergency declaration will be communicated if and as needed.
What other actions is the Town taking to ensure the safety and well-being of the community?
As has been the case since the outbreak began, the Town is continuing to monitor — and act on, as needed — the recommendations of Alberta Health Services and both federal and provincial levels of government. As well, the Town’s Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) continues to convene multiple times daily to review and execute the objectives of the Town’s Business Continuity Plan, which outlines the actions and provisions necessary for the continuation of critical and high-priority municipal services.
Town Family & Community Support Services (FCSS) staff remain available to assist those with needs around financial assistance, mental health, family violence, elder abuse, loneliness and isolation and other areas of social and mental well-being. Information and referrals are available at 403-227-3376, ext. 233.
Where can I find more information?
The following links provide more information on COVID-19 as it affects both Innisfail and the rest of Alberta:
Town of Innisfail — innisfail.ca/covid19
Alberta Health Services — ahs.ca/covid19
Government of Alberta — alberta.ca/covid19