The Town of Hay River is updating its response and making necessary changes internally to ensure that the municipality can best respond to the latest Omicron strain of Covid-19.

Senior administrative officer Glenn Smith told council at the Jan. 10 council meeting that the Town continues to work closely with the GNWT Department of Municipal and Community Affairs and the public health unit to have a “continuity plan” so that residents can continue to count on services.

“In our own planning discussions we’ve been considering that we might see up to perhaps a 30-per-cent impact on staffing and access to suppliers and contractors through this wave and perhaps into the future waves,” he said.

Most of the changes involve improving internal operations department by department and allowing more municipal workers to work from home where possible.

In recent weeks, the town has purchased 200 rapid tests for the fire hall and requires first responders to wear personal protective gear on ambulance calls. Protective services workers are also now required to isolate 72 hours before returning to work after travelling outside the territory.

Smith said the town is looking to find additional staff supports for sole workers who offer critical services, such as in the case of the municipality’s sole certified water treatment operator.

“We have been reaching out to a local retired water treatment plant operator to discuss potential interest on (backup) coverage,” he said.

Infrastructure

Town council passed the 2022 budget on Dec. 20 which will include $12.9 million in important public works projects with the extension of and upgrades to Riverview Drive and erosion mitigation work on Alaska Road, and work on Beaver Crescent, Capital Drive and Industrial Drive.

Smith said the town is continuing to analyze how those projects could be impacted by Omicron or future waves.

“We are having those types of discussions on what that impact might look like for capacity and timelines or contractors as well as our own contract engineering team,” he said.

With finance and administration staff, the town has continued using Zoom meetings to lessen the threat of transmission and all services are being offered online and by telephone from employees working from home.

In recent weeks the town has introduced an auto attendant for people who phone the town hall. Smith said that callers can now reach employees and departments by using numbered digits, which will reduce in-person contact.

Recreation centre

Director of recreation Stephane Millette said as of Jan. 4 and until Jan. 21, several activities at the recreation centre are closed to users due to high risk public activity.

The aquatic centre, the arena ice surface and curling rink ice surfaces and high intensity fitnessclasses have been suspended.

The walking track and Sub on the Hub remain open.

As of Monday evening, Jan. 10, youth programming was still being offered, however Millette said that may need to be reviewed.

“We also have received permission for our to offer some youth programming to support residents that do need to continue to go to work with the school closure,” Millette said.

He added that he has been in touch with the GNWT Department of Education, Culture and Employment on Jan. 10 which may lead to changes in the youth programming offering.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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