The District of West Vancouver has declared a local state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Mary-Ann Booth signed the order on Friday after remotely seeking support from her fellow councillors.
Declaring a local state of emergency gives the municipality additional powers to enforce the orders of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, according to district spokeswoman Donna Powers.
Of specific note, declaring a state of emergency will give West Vancouver the power to enforce closures or cancel business licenses for establishments that are not following the directives of the provincial health officer, such as the recent order for restaurants across the province to close their doors to dine-in guests.
“The province is the lead health agency, but it’s a matter of enforcement. On the ground you’re going to see local communities that know what’s going on in their community, but municipalities don’t have a lot of authority – so this gives them the authority to support the province in a time of emergency,” said Powers.
On Thursday, the City of Vancouver officially declared a local state of emergency following the declaration of a provincial state of emergency in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
West Vancouver announced the closure of its Seniors’ Activity Centre on March 13. On March 15, all community centres and public cultural facilities were closed to the public.
Although the district has declared a local state of emergency, the order still needs to be officially ratified, which council expects to vote on during its Monday meeting, according to Powers.
Council plans to convene in person at municipal hall for the March 23 meeting, but asks that members of the public participate remotely by submitting their comments in writing and watching the meeting online, said Powers.
“What mayor and council really want to impress on the community is that we’re all in this together and everybody needs to do their part. This is their way of helping manage the situation in their own community and they’re very, very committed to supporting all of the orders of the provincial health officer and keeping the community safe," said Powers.
West Vancouver is the first of the North Shore's three municipalities to declare a local state of emergency.