July 14: Phase Two updates and City Hall reopening

This article, from July 14, includes information related to City Hall’s limited reopening and other updates from the City of Hamilton.

Hello Ward 8 Neighbours,

The City of Hamilton notified residents in its past update that City Hall will be reopening to the public in a limited capacity as of July 20, 2020. The City also updated residents of other details, such as numerous park and waterfall openings.

For more details, please continue reading below…

COVID-19 Update: Phase Two Updates and City Hall to Reopen July 20, 2020

The full City of Hamilton press release can be found here.

HAMILTON, ON – Earlier this afternoon, Mayor Fred Eisenberger hosted the City’s final publicly televised and live-streamed COVID-19 media briefing with Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Medical Officer of Health, and the City’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Director, Paul Johnson.

As of 9 am this morning, there are a total of 868 cases, an increase of 3 positive cases from yesterday (confirmed 860 positive cases, 8 probable cases), and 44 deaths from COVID-19 in Hamilton.  We are also reporting that of the 868 cases, 800 or 92% are resolved. More details about cases are available on the City’s website including demographics, risk factors, exposure, etc.

Today’s media briefing included an update on Phase Two: Our Gradual Recovery, the operational updates in Phase Two of Hamilton Reopens.

Published at www.hamilton.ca/phase-two, the Phase Two operational updates cover four main areas, including reopening plans for Hamilton City Hall, reopening plans for the Municipal Service Centres, information about the administrative offices for elected officials, and a plan for continuing to have many City staff work remotely.

Some key highlights

Reopening plans for Hamilton City Hall
As Hamilton’s municipal hub, City Hall will be one of the first municipal buildings to reopen to the public. Beginning the week of July 20, 2020, the first two floors of City Hall will reopen to members of City Council, their staff, and City staff who have been approved to return to work between the hours of 8:30 am and 4:30 pm.

A number of changes will be in place when the building reopens – including enhanced cleaning, measures to ensure physical distancing, efforts to encourage good hand hygiene and limit the spread of the virus, health screening for those working or visiting City Hall, and more.

The public must enter through any of the doors on the first floor. Councillors, their staff and those City staff who have been approved to return to work may enter through the second floor doors.

Not all City services will be immediately available, and many will continue to be offered virtually – the document has a full listing of what will become available during the week of July 20.

Ample signage and floor markings will be in place to ensure it is clear where everyone should enter the building, stand in line, or access City services.

Reopening plans for the remaining Municipal Service Centres
At this time, all other Municipal Service Centres will remain closed until mid-August 2020.  The health and safety guidelines used within the Municipal Service Centres will be very similar to those used at City Hall.

Information about the administrative offices for the Mayor and Councillors
The Phase Two Operational Updates document includes details for our Councillors’ offices related to their specific operations.

While face-to-face meetings continue to be discouraged, reopening the administrative offices for our elected officials allows residents to connect in-person on key community issues where it is required, under the established health and safety guidelines. For meetings that must occur, the number of attendees must be limited to adhere to restrictions under the Provincial Orders, and be appropriate for the size of the meeting space (maximum capacity is posted on the door).

A plan for continuing to have many City staff work remotely
In consultation with the Emergency Operations Centre, the Senior Leadership Team has decided that, wherever possible, many staff will continue working from home until at least September 30, 2020. As noted in the hierarchy of controls, physical distancing is the best way to eliminate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Continuing to work from home and using technology to replace face-to-face interactions is one of the best ways to allow physical distancing.

Some staff will return to the office, if they support the delivery of a public facing service that is now available and have been approved to return to work.

“I appreciate the Province’s cautious re-opening approach and I am optimistic that, if we continue to work together, our community will be soon able to safely move into Stage 3. As we remain for the moment in Stage 2, everyone’s patience is appreciated as we continue to do everything necessary to make sure our reopening is safe and successful. I will ask for our community to continue to follow public health recommendations including keeping a physical distance from others, wearing a non-medical mask when indoors or when physical distancing is difficult to maintain, washing your hands often and staying home when you are sick. Thank you to everyone in Hamilton for working together to slow the advance of the virus in our community.”- Mayor Fred Eisenberger

Other updates for July 14

Updates from the Hamilton Public Library – Fees and Fines
The Hamilton Public Library is welcoming all Hamiltonians back by waiving all fines and fees until December 31, 2021 and permanently eliminating fines and fees on materials for children and teens. This ensures library access without fear of fines and supports the community through the pandemic and the eventual recovery period.

The Library will also be launching a pay-it-forward donor fund to support Hamilton kids’ literacy and learning. The fund will increase access to quality learning resources to better prepare Hamilton’s youth for tomorrow.

For more information, or to check your library account, visit www.hpl.ca or contact 905-546-3200 or AskHPL@hpl.ca.

Mandatory Face Covering By-Law
Last Friday, the City’s Board of Health considered a by-law related to mandatory face coverings in most indoor public spaces. The by-law was created to protect the public from potentially spreading the virus to each other while in indoor public spaces, including commercial areas, places of worship, community services, public transit and HSR.

The by-law references face coverings, which includes bandanas and scarfs that cover the nose, mouth and chin and other non-gapping covers. It would not include those with underlying conditions or those conditions or those who cannot put on or remove a mask without assistance.

This proposed by-law will be voted on at the Hamilton City Council meeting next Friday, July 17.  Once a decision is made, it will be communicated to the public and establishment owners.  All residents can livestream Council and Committee meetings by visiting www.hamilton.ca/Council-Committee.

Some waterfalls reopening tomorrow
As of tomorrow, most waterfalls in Hamilton will reopen to the public. This includes:

  • Albion Falls
  • Tiffany Falls
  • Devil’s Punchbowl
  • Borer’s Falls
  • Felker’s Falls

All visitors must follow emergency measures and guidelines to allow these areas to remain open safely. Visitors are asked to consider planning their trip on “off-peak” times such as early in the morning or on weekdays.

If parking lots are full, do not park on municipal roadways, please come back another time.

Spencer Gorge and its associated areas will be reopening at a later date, planned for September. A reservation system and trail loop will be put in place before the areas open to the public.

The areas that will remain closed include:

  • Dundas Peak
  • Spencer Gorge
  • Tew Falls
  • Webster Falls
  • Crooks Hollow
  • Spencer Adventure Trail

Members of the public are not permitted on any of these areas or trails, and those who access these properties are trespassing. Municipal Parking Bylaw Enforcement staff will be patrolling to enforce parking restrictions and trespassers may be fined.

Parking tickets in Special Enforcement Areas carry a $250 fine. Parking violations can be reported by calling 905-540-6000. Trespassers can be reported to municipal law enforcement through the Hamilton Police Services’ non-emergency line at 905-546-4925 or the City of Hamilton at 905-546-2424.

HSR Transit -Reminders
With the return of front door loading and fare collection, HSR is seeing an increase in capacity on HSR buses. We are reminding customers that they are required to wear a non-medical mask while riding the bus, taking DARTS and using TRANSCAB.

In keeping with the recommendations from the Province, an exemption is made for those who are unable to wear a mask, as not all disabilities and medical conditions that prevent someone from wearing a mask are visible. It’s important to note that we are not denying anyone a ride.

HSR continues to add supplemental service on our routes to help minimize crowding, increase physical distancing onboard, and prevent potential customer pass-bys.

Over the next few weeks, HSR will be at various terminal locations, and high-volume stops throughout the city to distribute non-medical masks to customers who cannot acquire one through another means. The masks are also available at the Hunter St. Go Station during regular business hours. In addition, staff are working with both DARTS and local social service organizations to distribute the masks to transit users. The masks are one-time use only, and will be available while supplies last.

HSR is committed to the safety of our operators and customers, and is distributing these masks to help provide customers with a temporary solution until they can acquire their own personal mask to use consistently on future travel.

Questions or concerns?

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact our office here.