The COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for Flamborough / Hamilton has provided an update and overview of the phased-in services that the City is and will be operating in accordance with provincial orders and the health & safety of staff and our communities. Although a lengthy document, there is good information below outlining the services that have been modified to ensure they can still be delivered.
Full list of updates below – if you have any questions, please send me an email to Judi.Partridge@hamilton.ca or call 905 546 2713.
Councillor Judi Partridge
There are some services we can restart on a modified basis in a way that ensures we continue to adhere to the provincial orders and the health and safety of our staff and the community: we will be implementing physical distancing practices, staggering hours and increasing cleaning practices. Restarting these modified services will require redeployment of all front line staff in Environmental Services staff, and all front line Transportation Operations and Maintenance staff who are currently at home on a scheduled rotational basis. The services being restarted are critical to maintaining our facilities such as arena’s, rec centres and some park facilities as the seasons change.
Weather dependent but typically, begins during the last week of April. This work will reduce the risk of standing water and associated mosquito habitat, tick infestation, sight line issues, and the liability of pedestrians encountering unseen hazards.
- In parks and sports fields: Grass will be cut once every seven business days to preserve the sensitive turf and prevent costly damage caused by weed infestations. As long as park assets such as play structures, sports fields and other park amenities remain closed, the grass will not be trimmed along fence lines or around trees. Grass along steep embankments will not be trimmed; this practice exceeds the capacity of full-time staff and is done exclusively for aesthetics.
- On trails, at cemeteries and City facilities: Grass will be cut once every seven business days.
- In the right-of-way: Grass within the City right of way on the Red Hill Valley Parkway and Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway will be cut. Grass on all other right of ways will be cut by contractors to maintain sightlines as the City does not have the required equipment or staff.
- Civic Museums: Grounds maintenance will be re-started at the City’s civic museums is undertaken by a combination of Public Works staff (grass cutting) and external contractors (landscaping).
Waste and Litter Collection
- In City Parks: At this time, garbage is currently being collected in parks as per the standard service level of twice weekly, and this will continue. As is usual practice in the summer, additional garbage receptables will be placed in parks, however, the number of seasonal receptacles won’t be as high as a typical year given the closures. Staff not currently working on essential duties will be redeployed to perform litter pickup in parks to ensure the spring cleanup is completed.
- In the right of way: Currently, only emergency pickup on the roadway has been deemed essential. However, staff have returned to a standard service level to deal with customer complaints and begin proactive patrols along roadways and alleys to clean up the right of way. In addition, staff have started the annual spring cleanup of the Red Hill Valley Parkway and Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway.
Additional work in parks
- Asset Safety Inspections: Parks investigators will continue to respond to citizen requests, hazard identification, documented asset inspection and claims investigation.
- Critical Park Maintenance: Critical maintenance in parks will continue, this may include the repair and replacement of critical infrastructure such as gates, bridges, railings and stairs, as well as installing and maintaining signage and lighting.
- Secondary Park Services: Secondary services will be undertaken in the event staffing levels allow and include sports field maintenance such as aerating, over seeding, irrigation and fertilization. These are chosen on the basis that they are critical, high priority work that can be segmented and undertaken by single staff members effectively. Secondary services would be paused or discontinued to supplement critical services.
- Burials in municipal cemeteries will continue as-needed. If demand for municipal cemetery services increases and it is required, staff from Parks will be cross-trained to assist. Non-essential cemetery work such as gardening, pre-need sales, foundation placement, trimming, maintenance of non-active cemeteries will not be completed at this time.
- Gage Park Production Greenhouse: Beginning this week, a small number of staff returned to work at the Gage Park Production Greenhouse. Typically, at this time of year horticulture staff would be tending to juvenile plants that would be used for flower islands and other gardens throughout the city. Work in the Greenhouse is now required, given staff are still targeting a level of service of 70 per cent of the traffic islands to be planted with flowering plants. If the young plants are not maintained between now until the end of May, this goal will not be attainable. Preparation of garden beds is intended to start May 4, 2020, and planting of the beds is scheduled for late May. Additional staffing resources will be required at these times through redeployment if seasonal staff and students are not employed. This will be decided at a later date.
- Mum Show: In order to have plant material flowering at the right time for the annual Mum Show, staff must take cuttings and propagate plant material in mid-April. To complete the full amount of propagation in preparation for the Mum Show, horticulture staff are being deployed for three weeks to complete these tasks. Beyond this three-week period, on site staff requirements will be less and staff will be transferred to work outside.
- Annual road maintenance programs: Activities such as drainage improvements, concrete sidewalk grinding, annual sidewalk inspection and hazard identification replacement program will restart. These programs will operate at reduced staffing levels due to the reduction of student resources and full-time staff will be redeployed to fill those duties.
- Escarpment crossing clean up: An assessment and cleanup of all escarpment crossings will also be completed as part of the spring cleanup.
- Sidewalk and curb replacements: Sidewalk and curb replacements remain temporarily suspended at this time because concrete crews are not able to work within the physical distancing guidelines.
PLANNING & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Work in the Planning & Economic Development department continues at this time. Three main areas are most relevant to our COVID-19 response, as follows:
- Level of service: The City’s by-law enforcement capacity is at full deployment with the general level of service as follows:
- Weekdays: 25 officers in Municipal Law Enforcement (8:00 am to 1:00 am), 7 officers in Animal Services (24 hours) and 7 officers in Business Licencing (7:00 am to 7:00 pm)
- Weekends: 8 officers in Municipal Law Enforcement (11:00 am to 1:00 am), 5 officers in Animal Services (24 hours) and 5 officers in Business Licencing (7:00 am to 7:00 pm)
- COVID-19 related calls prioritized: enforcement and ticketing of facility closures (e.g. waterfalls, park structures, dog parks) and Provincial Orders, as well as the City’s physical distancing by-law.
- Enforcement of other by-laws: Officers continue to respond to issues related to other City by-laws that represent a health and safety concern, including Vital Services, Vacant Buildings, emergency Property Standards matters, as well as the illegal cutting of trees.
- Staff redeployment: Starting April 27, there will be enhanced enforcement of non COVID-19 related calls, particularly property standards, which will bring the level of enforcement of non-COVID-19 calls up to a standard more in line with pre-pandemic service levels. Supervisors from the Parking Enforcement team that normally supervise the crossing guards’ program will be redeployed to do by-law enforcement at Albion Falls. This will free up four by-law officers to focus on property standards. Staff will monitor the service levels associated with this redeployment and re-evaluate on a weekly basis.
- Full deployment: while some parking regulations have been relaxed during the COVID-19 response, Parking Enforcement Officers are still fully deployed in the field and focused on traffic safety and/or community concern matters and enforcing parking regulations at highly visited public sites, such as Conservation Areas. Staff have altered shifts to remove the overnight shift (10:00 pm to 7:30 am) in order to add seven day per week coverage. As a result, there are currently 10 officers on duty every day, seven days per week, three shifts per day, with coverage from 7:30 am to 10:00 pm. A Supervisor is on standby 24/7 for any immediate concern in need of action.
- School Crossing Guard services discontinued: no hours are scheduled for these part-time staff. Supervisor hours previously allocated for school crossing guard services are being redeployed to assist with by-law enforcement at waterfalls, in order to free up by-law capacity to address property standards issues.
- Suspension of contracted services: as a cost savings measure, staff are suspending contracted enforcement services (i.e. Corps Commissionaires) effective April 30 due to lower need, and existing City parking enforcement staff will take on these duties.
Parking Operations and Maintenance
- Maintenance of surface lots: grass cutting at City parking lots will be every 3-4 weeks as opposed to 1-2 weeks. Garbage and litter pick-up will remain at same standard, ie. minimum 1-2 times per week in lots and daily in garages. Parking maintenance staff will do spring maintenance on surface lots including pot-hole filling, line painting and minor repairs. Parking labourers will also be assisting with garbage and litter pick-up in areas surrounding downtown parking facilities.
HEALTHY & SAFE COMMUNITIES
A significant number of staff have been redeployed to support the City’s response to the COVID-19 emergency. As the response to the pandemic has evolved over recent weeks, a number of service areas have required additional staff. Many full-time staff have been redeployed from their home position to roles that are supporting the essential services within the community, these include:
- Administrative support for Public Health Services
- Operation of hotel shelters
- Screening of staff at the City-operated long-term care homes (Macassa and Wentworth lodges)
- Delivery of personal protective equipment, food supplies and medication
- Additional cleaning at the Mountain Transit Centre
- Replacing staff with illnesses
Supporting the vulnerable population
- Men’s shelter at First Ontario Centre: to handle the overflow for the existing shelter system.
- Hotel rooms for women and families: to ensure women and families who require shelter have access.
- Isolation shelter at Bennetto Community Centre: to ensure those who require a safe place to isolate have access if required.
- Permanent housing options: Engaging both private landlords and housing providers to ensure they have the necessary supports to continue to offer units and house individuals.
- Financial support and advice: For those who operate and reside in the housing system, with a supports model to ensure they remain operational and safe.
- Additional support to FoodShare: To support increased demand for food, the City has so far provided $250,000 to FoodShare. This investment has been very successful in leveraging the buying power of FoodShare and ensure we are able to meet the ever-increasing demands people accessing support.