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Volume 25, Number 12, Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Fort offers break in utility bills

I am not finding it difficult to fill my time, despite practicing social distancing in response to COVID-19.

The print shop was never exactly a hub of social activity. My wife, Clarizze, who runs the shop, rarely saw half a dozen people in a day in person. Pressman Arem Miciano typically sees no one, spending his time downstairs at his machines. Now the shop is entirely empty except for us.

I would normally talk to quite a few more people in person, but I have deliberately switched to phone calls and e-mails. And since I'm not much of a hugger, social distancing comes pretty easily for me for those times I do see someone in person.

I have reduced the number of places I deliver the paper to. Many shops are closed, or have closed their doors to the public, so obviously I won't be delivering the Post there this week. Most restaurants have closed their dining rooms, as well, though they are still open for take out and delivery orders.

Look for the Post at local grocery stores, pharmacies and liquor stores if you can't find it at your regular spot. These are the locations still doing brisk business.

I'm still printing about 3,000 copies, as copies are still being picked up in good numbers at these locations.

And work goes on. A lot of events have been cancelled, but there is lots to say about the local response to COVID-19. I have had a busy week, and expect to have another busy one ahead.

My advice to stay calm still holds. There will likely be more bad news ahead as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to climb. Remember that the measures taken so far will take at least two weeks to have an impact. The number of new cases will continue to grow until that time.

Follow the instructions at Alberta.ca/covid19

Meanwhile, please remember the other victims of COVID-19, our local small businesses. Almost every restaurant in town has now geared up to serve take out and delivery meals.

Owners of these small, locally-owned restaurant rely on daily sales to pay staff, the rent and themselves. I know this crisis will put some out of business, but please consider helping out by ordering a meal at one of these great options.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

NEWS/Entries/2020/3/19_Yes,_we_have_no_bananas.html

Businesses need help at this time

Residents can delay paying their City of Fort Saskatchewan utility bills for the next three months without penalty, City Council decided Monday, March 23.

The move is in keeping with the Alberta government’s decision allowing residents to also defer paying gas and electricity bills for the coming three months, City Manager Troy Fleming told Council.

“I think it’s important to provide people with a little bit of relief at this time,” agreed Councillor Deanna Lennox.

More help will be needed as people deal with lost income due to the measures being taken to fight the COVID-19 virus, other Councillors noted. “We probably have a number of households in this community already experiencing financial difficulty,” said Councillor Ed Sperling.

Deferring payments like this also only puts off the problem, added Councillor Brian Kelly. “We’ve essentially created more debt for these households.”

City Council is limited by law as to what it can do, said Mayor Gale Katchur. All of its actions, including measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, are only with the approval or direction of the Alberta Government.

The City of Fort Saskatchewan also has limited financial resources, Fleming added. He urged those who can afford to pay their bills to continue to do so.

Council also approved a motion Monday allowing staff to refund deposits on facility rentals and make arrangements for pre-paid facility pass card holders.

Council has yet to discuss deferral of property tax payments due in June, but the Alberta Government announced Monday that the Education portion of the property tax will not increase this year as planned.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020