BARRHEAD - Following the announcement of a state of public health emergency by the Alberta government, the Town of Barrhead and the County of Barrhead have both closed their offices to the public until further notice.
The town has also shut down the Barrhead Agrena, the Barrhead Regional Aquatic Centre, the Barrhead Curling Club and the Blue Heron Bowling Alley. (While the town does not operate the latter two facilities, it does own the property.)
It should be noted that the town office is still in operation — members of the public are simply restricted from entering the building. If you need to contact the municipality, you can still phone the town office at (780) 674-3301 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chief administrative officer Ed LeBlanc said the town’s regular services — garbage removal, street maintenance and so forth — are still in operation, as is the Barrhead Regional Fire Department. Water and sewer services will continue to be provided through the Barrhead Regional Water Commission.
“It’s business at usual. We just want to do our part to flatten the curve and prevent further spread of COVID-19,” said LeBlanc.
When asked if the town was experiencing any staffing issues as a result of, say, employees returning from vacation and having to self-isolate, LeBlanc said they are more or less at full staff.
The same restrictions exist at the County of Barrhead; while the municipality is still in operation, the county office is closed to the public and all non-essential meetings have been cancelled.
If you have business with the county, such as submitting an application for a subdivision application, you are directed to phone the office at (780) 674-3331 or e-mail email@example.com. You can also still send regular mail to the county.
Water and sewer services are still being provided as normal and the waste transfer sites are still open to the public. County of Barrhead Debbie Oyarzun said they also continue to work with private contractors who provide septic services to residents.
“We’re just going to make sure that whatever they need from us, we’ll continue to provide that as an essential service,” she said.
Road maintenance and communication services are also continuing, as those are deemed to be essential.
When asked about staffing, Oyarzun said they are still fully-staffed, which is good news. The only person associated with the county who cannot come to work is deputy mayor Dennis Nanninga, who returned from travelling outside of the country on March 13 and is now self-isolating.
“But we’re just going to have to do things a little differently to ensure that we can stay fully-staffed,” she added.
A joint public hearing between the town and the county to discuss the Intermunicipal Development Plan that was originally set for March 24 has also been postponed to a later date, which has yet to be determined.
As noted on the county’s website, the purpose of the IDP is to provide a joint land use policy for the future development of land near the boundary of the Town of Barrhead.
It provides joint policies on residential subdivisions, agricultural use and industrial development.
Holding the public hearing was part of the process of finalizing the IDP, which was already been approved by town and county council earlier this month.
All other non-essential meetings have been cancelled at the town and county. It remains unclear if regular council meetings will proceed.
For further updates on how COVID-19 is affecting the services of both municipal governments, please refer to the town and county’s websites.