HomeNewsMedia Releases

RDNO Updates on COVID-19 | Last Updated: April 22, 3:30 p.m.

Posted Friday, March 13, 2020

Browse the updates: Open Burning Cancellation ExtendedLandfills are Open, but Treat our Staff with RespectVisit the new Isolate and Create Website!GVAC Keeps Parks and Trails OpenOpen Burn Permits Cancelled in the Fire Protection Areas of Electoral Areas B and CUpdate on Kickiwillie Porta-Potties | Opening of Community Gardens Delayed |  RDNO Main Office available by Appointment | Status of Parks, Trails and Natural Spaces | DeliveriesPractice Social Distancing at DDFs | Services Available without In-Person Contact


April 16 - RDNO Extends Cancellation of Open Burn Permits

On March 30, the RDNO announced the cancellation of all open burn permits issued for the Fire Protection areas of Electoral Areas B (Swan Lake) and C (BX / Silver Star) until April 15. The RDNO has revisited this and decided that open burning permits will continue to be cancelled until further notice. This is in line with the province-wide ban on open burning that will be in effect beginning on April 16. The province-wide open burning ban also includes Electoral Areas D, E, and F.

“The decision to extend the cancellation follows the province-wide ban on open burning that will be in place on April 16,” said Amanda Shatzko, Electoral Area C Director.

Wood-burning campfires are not banned in the North Okanagan under this decision; however, they are discouraged as even small fires add to air pollution.

“Doing everything we can to help keep our neighbours and community safe is of the utmost importance. According to the BC CDC, deterioration in air quality may lead to more COVID-19 infections overall, so this is an obvious step to improve air quality in these times,” said Bob Fleming, Electoral Area B Director.

As this is a provincial ban, non-compliance should now be reported to the Province, not the RDNO, at 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone. More details on the April 16 open burning ban can be found on the Government of British Columbia’s website.

According to the BC Centre for Disease Control:

As cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in BC continue to increase, the BC Centre for Disease Control recommends implementing measures that help to reduce excess air pollution. There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function. This means that:

  • Deterioration in air quality may lead to more COVID-19 infections overall,
  • Deterioration in air quality may lead to more cases of severe COVID-19 infections, adding further demand to our healthcare system, and
  • Improvements to air quality may help to protect the whole population from COVID-19 and its potentially severe effects.

Source: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/air-land-water/air/advisories/2020-03-26_hssz_open_burning_restrictions_issued.pdf


April 16 - RDNO to Start Fining People who Abuse Staff at Landfills

Staff at the RDNO’s Diversion and Disposal Facilities (landfills) are keeping the facilities running and accessible to the public in the times of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, there have been repeated instances of verbal abuse, yelling and swearing at staff.

“We are all in this situation together, and we urge the public to recognize that the people running the facilities are keeping the sites open while also going through the stresses of a pandemic. A little bit of patience and kindness is what we all need right now,” said Mike Fox, General Manager of Community Services.

“It’s disheartening that we have come to this point, but we are prepared to issue $100 fines to people who don’t follow the basic, golden rule of treating others with respect,” said Fox.

The RDNO has repeatedly reminded people to limit their trips to the landfill to essential trips only. Essential trips include getting rid of waste that will rot, stink, or attract animals. The facilities are limiting the number of patrons allowed on site at a time to follow the public health orders for social distancing. Because of the limited number allowed on site at a time, long waits should be expected.


April 15 - RDNO Grant Creates Online Engagement in Culture

The Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) has provided grant funding to develop and create content for a website that will encourage people to engage, learn and create as they continue to practice social distancing and stay home. The new creative portal will include how-to videos, photography, virtual tours, and more!

“The RDNO recognizes this is a challenging time for people. The need to stay active and connected is more important than ever,” said Amanda Shatzko, Vice-Chair of the RDNO Board of Directors. “While there is a lot of online content available, local organizations are doing amazing things to increase their engagement with the community. This website provides a one-stop-shop to access content virtually, allowing people of all ages to learn, explore and create while supporting local not-for-profits.”

The Greater Vernon Museum and Archives is excited to collaborate with other community partners to develop and manage this new website.

“Like many not-for-profit cultural or recreational service providers, our team at the museum is unable to deliver regular face-to-face programming. So, when we heard about this project, our team volunteered to take a lead role in setting up and maintaining the website,” said Steve Fleck, Executive Director of the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives.

When asked what people can expect to see when they go to the www.okcreateonline.com website, Fleck said: “The content will be engaging and robust. Along with art demos, gallery tours, historical footage and creative inspiration, the Okanagan Science Centre will even live stream some of their animals!”

“This is just the beginning, though,” said Fleck. “The site will continue to grow and be driven by the interests of the community. We will encourage people to participate in a variety of ways and provide a platform to help them share and connect with others around the region. As the project progresses, we will share information on how to access online tools and grow their comfort with learning and engaging online. This is a difficult time, but we can make the most of it by bringing people together in new ways.”

The public is encouraged to visit the website at www.okcreateonline.com and subscribe for updates on new website content posts.


April 9 - GVAC Keeps Parks and Trails Open, but Strongly Encourages Recreation in One’s Own Neighbourhood

At the April 8, 2020, Greater Vernon Advisory Committee (GVAC) meeting, discussion took place on the accessibility of RDNO trails & natural spaces in the Greater Vernon area during the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was made to keep the areas open, but to encourage residents to alternatively enjoy the parks and trails in their own neighbourhoods or those that are less popular.

“The best choice is for residents to walk, run or cycle in their own neighbourhoods,” said Akbal Mund, Chair of GVAC. “We have a large network of trails in the Greater Vernon area. Instead of visiting the busiest trails, like the Okanagan Rail Trail we encourage you to discover something new, and that is preferably in your neighbourhood.”

Discussion was also had on large groups of people seen gathering at the Greater Vernon Athletic Park, despite the facility’s closure and physical distancing orders. As a result of this, fences and closures signage have been placed at the park to further enforce the closure.

“We all absolutely must maintain physical distancing while using our parks and trails. Our decision to keep them open to the public does not mean we are not prepared to close them if people are clearly and consistently violating these measures,” said Mund. “When people violate physical distancing, they are putting their lives and the lives of people around them in danger. We take the health and safety of our residents very seriously.”

With the plea for people to walk and exercise in their own neighbourhoods, the RDNO is reminding drivers to be extra vigilant with the added pedestrians and cyclists sharing the roadways.

The parks and trails affected by these decisions include:

RDNO owned section of the Okanagan Rail Trail (still under erosion work on weekdays);
Grey Canal Trail;
Kal Crystal Waters Trail;
Middleton Mountain Trail;
Swan Lake Nature Reserve; and,
BX Creek Trail.
For information on parks and trails not on this list, please contact the responsible municipality.


March 30, 2:20 p.m. - Open Burn Permits Cancelled in the Fire Protection Areas of Electoral Areas B and C 

From March 31 to April 15, all open burning permits issued by the RDNO for the Fire Protection areas of Electoral Areas B (Swan Lake) and C (BX / Silver Star) are cancelled. After April 15, the RDNO will revisit this issue and provide an update.

Open burning permits are not required for small confined fires (campfires) that are under half a metre in diameter, but we encourage people to reduce their backyard fires as even small fires add to air pollution.

The RDNO does not regulate burning outside of the fire protection areas of Electoral Areas B and C, or in Electoral Areas D, E, and F. However, these areas still must comply with the Provincial restrictions.

“We made the decision to cancel the open burn permits to follow the recommendations of the BC Centre for Disease Control,” said Bob Fleming, Electoral Area B Director.

“It is important for us to take science-based actions that benefit the health of our community, and especially so during a global pandemic,” said Amanda Shatzko, Electoral Area C Director. “Remember, we are all in this together.”

According to the BC Centre for Disease Control:

As cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in BC continue to increase, the BC Centre for Disease Control recommends implementing measures that help to reduce excess air pollution. There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function. This means that:

  • Deterioration in air quality may lead to more COVID-19 infections overall,
  • Deterioration in air quality may lead to more cases of severe COVID-19 infections, adding further demand to our healthcare system, and
  • Improvements to air quality may help to protect the whole population from COVID-19 and its potentially severe effects.

Source: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/environment/air-land-water/air/advisories/2020-03-26_hssz_open_burning_restrictions_issued.pdf


March 27, 3:40 p.m. - RDNO Diversion and Disposal Facilities Implements Social Distancing Measures on Site 

The RDNO’s Diversion and Disposal Facilities (DDFs) continue to be open to serve the residents and businesses of the region during the current Covid-19 pandemic.  These facilities are seeing a significant increase in customer traffic due to spring cleaning and yard maintenance. 

The RDNO has asked customers to consider whether a visit to a DDF is truly necessary at this time and to abide by the orders of the Provincial Health Officer during their visit, particularly as it relates to social distancing.  Unfortunately, many customers are not abiding by these requests and as a result are placing landfill staff and other customers at risk.

The RDNO will be enforcing the social distancing directive of the Provincial Health Officer at all facilities effective Friday, March 26th.  What does this mean?

  • The number of customers permitted onsite at any given time will be limited and any customers not following the social distancing order to stay 2 m apart from other customers may be asked to leave the facility or may be issued a bylaw violation ticket
  • Customers can expect a significant increase in line ups and wait times at all facilities, wait times of up to 60 minutes should be expected during peak times
  • Customers will be expected to abide by the direction of DDF staff while onsite

Residents are strongly encouraged to utilize the curbside garbage collection service provided to residents in most RDNO member municipalities.  Please contact your local municipality if you have any questions regarding curbside garbage collection.

As long as DDF customers are patient and follow the directive of the Provincial Health Officer, RDNO DDFs will continue to provide service to all customers, however if customers fail to abide by these directives, the RDNO may consider further limiting access to the facilities and the services provided including closure to the public.


March 25, 10:21 a.m. - RDNO Removing Porta-Potties at Kickwillie Rail Trail Access due to COVID-19

The RDNO continues to implement measures and take action to reduce the spread of COVID-19. On March 25, 2020, the RDNO announced they would be removing the porta-potties at the Kickwillie entrance to the Okanagan Rail Trail since they cannot be disinfected between each use, and therefore, were identified as a risk for virus transmission. The parking lot at Kickwillie was recently closed by the District of Coldstream to encourage social distancing.

“We do not make decisions like this lightly, but we are absolutely focused on taking actions for the health of our community,” said Mike Fox, General Manager of Community Services.

“The RDNO is following the direction of the Province, and after BC Parks closed the washrooms at the Kekuli Bay Provincial Park, we felt it was appropriate to do the same at Kickwillie”, said Fox.

The Greater Vernon Community Gardens located in West Vernon, East Hill and Okanagan College were set to open for April 5, 2020; however, this opening will be delayed until further notice. The proximity of the garden beds is too close to allow for the proper social distancing of 2 metres. At peak times, it can also be a high-traffic location with multiple older adults.

March 24, 11:43 a.m. - RDNO Diversion and Disposal Facilities Remind of Social Distancing on Site

The RDNO’s Diversion and Disposal Facilities (DDFs) continue to be open to serve the residents and businesses of the region during the current Covid-19 pandemic. However, the RDNO is asking people to follow the orders of the Provincial Health Officer during their trip and to consider whether a visit is truly necessary.

Follow Social Distancing

Precautions are in place to reduce the spread of the disease, and we implore every customer to follow the clear rules of social distancing.

The Provincial Health Officer has ordered everyone to stay 2 metres apart from others, unless they are from the same household, to limit transmission of COVID-19. These efforts are temporary but crucial.

Delay non-essential trips

The RDNO asks that residents consider delaying non-essential trips to DDFs until the current pandemic subsides. While we are open regular summer hours, ask yourself if you could wait a couple of weeks to get rid of that old mattress, broken refrigerator, or pile of yard waste.

Essential trips may include refuse that must be disposed of for hygiene and sanitation. We ask that you pay your fees with a credit card or debit card, if possible.

The more we all follow these precautions, the sooner this pandemic will be over. We are all in this together. Please follow the Provincial Health Officer’s orders regarding social distancing to do your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to keep yourself and facility workers safe.


March 23, 5:30 p.m. - RDNO Open by Appointment

In light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the RDNO has moved to an appointment only operational status. The RDNO continues to take direction from the Provincial and Federal authorities and recognizes that changes are happening rapidly.

Essential services, like fire protection, diversion and disposal facilities, and clean, safe water, will be maintained throughout this pandemic with the goal of having all services operating.

How to Book an Appointment

Call 250-550-3700 to book an appointment with RDNO staff. However, people are strongly encouraged to consider options that don’t include in-person meetings. A list is provided below.

Deliveries and Mail

The RDNO will continue to receive deliveries of parcels and mail, but each item received will be quarantined for 48 hours before being opened by staff. Deliveries must be dropped in the lobby in designated areas.

Couriers picking up packages need to call RDNO reception upon arrival at 250-550-3700.

Parks, Trails and Natural Spaces

All playgrounds in RDNO parks in Electoral Areas B & C (including N’Kwala Park, Gibbs Road Park, BX Community Park, Cedar Ridge Park) and White Valley playgrounds will be CLOSED effective immediately.

Due to COVID-19, the Greater Vernon Athletic Park and the onsite washrooms are closed. If anyone decides to enter the facility, they do at their own risk and we remind everyone to maintain social distancing of 2 metres.

All RDNO dog parks (BX Dog Park and Mutrie Dog Park) remain open. The Okanagan Rail Trail remains open, but active construction is still occurring at the north end (KM 2.5 to KM 12), so we still ask people to respect these closures. The Kickwillie parking lot has been closed by the District of Coldstream, so we encourage people to park at other accesses, or to walk to the rail trail if possible.

Planning and Building

Building inspections are still occurring at this time. Inspections are to be booked through the regular channels and there will be extra safety measures and precautions taken, including asking pre-screening questions to customers and maintaining 2 metres of social distancing once on-site. Planning applications and inquiries are still being accepted. Please call or email. 

Utilities

Utilities staff will be available by phone or in-person by appointment where necessary.  All forms dealing with water are available online and completed forms can be emailed to [email protected]. Forms and cheques may also be dropped off at the office, but will be quarantined for 48 hours before opening.

Board and Committee Meetings

As of March 23, 2020, Board and Committee meetings will take place.

Payment Options

Mail us a cheque for any payment, including Municipal Ticket Information

Online Banking – you can pay your utility bill through your financial institution

The Regional District is looking at expanding online banking to other types of payments. Call in to our office to discuss other payment options with finance staff.
 

Services Available without In-Person Contact

Get your Building Permit application online

Purchase your dog license online at www.dogcontrol.ca

Call into our office to discuss options with RDNO staff. Our main phone number is 250-550-3700

Email us at [email protected]

Visit our website for information on our services and departments


March 18, 3:05 p.m.: RDNO Reassures Public that Water is Safe and in Good Supply Amidst Pandemic

The Regional District of North Okanagan wants to assure the public that it is taking measures to ensure the continuity of supply and the safety of our drinking water as we maneuver through COVID-19.

First and foremost, water supplied through all our drinking water utilities including Greater Vernon Water, Silver Star Water, Grindrod Water, Whitevale Water and Mabel Lake Water is treated through chlorination. Chlorination is an effective treatment against all virus contamination including COVID-19. Both Greater Vernon Water and Silver Star Water utilities also provide additional treatment with UV disinfection.

“Staff are also reviewing our operational procedures and staffing levels and implementing protocols to safeguard the health of our workers to ensure continuity of service,” said Zee Marcolin, General Manager of Utilities, RDNO. “Although not imminent, this could include water use restrictions or delaying agricultural turn on if required.”

The RDNO recognizes the challenge that COVID-19 poses to the community.  We want to assure our residents that the water supplied by RDNO Utilities will continue in sufficient quantities and is safe for domestic consumption.


March 18, 11:30 a.m.: Media Release | RDNO Update on COVID-19

As the situation regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve, the Board of the RDNO wants to assure the public and our community partners that the RDNO is closely monitoring events and will continue to keep stakeholders informed through a variety of channels including our website and social media. 

“We recognize that this is a rapidly changing situation, and we are monitoring updates closely,” said Kevin Acton, Chair of the RDNO Board of Directors. “We are taking our direction from the Provincial and Federal authorities, and will continue to update the public on any organizational changes.”

Status of RDNO Services and Facilities

Our offices are open with regular hours and all services, including essential services like water, Diversion and Disposal Facilities, and Fire Protection are operating as usual. We have enhanced the sanitation measures at all work sites and will be taking additional precautions to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for both staff and members of the public.

RDNO capital projects will be moving forward as planned, and normal procurements processes are in place.

Board and Committee Meetings

As of 11:30 a.m. on March 18, all Board and Board Committee meetings are planned to go ahead as usual. Extra hand sanitizer and social distancing techniques will be in practice, such as avoiding handshakes.

How to avoid in-person visits to the RDNO Office

If you are not feeling well, follow the advice of the health authorities and stay home.

If you need to reach us and would like to reduce in-person contact, there are options to connect with us over the phone, by mail, or the internet. For information from any of our departments, call our main number at 250-550-3700. You can also email us at [email protected] or visit our website at www.rdno.ca.


March 13, 12:12 p.m.: The RDNO is closely monitoring the local, national, and international situation regarding the COVID-19. For us, it’s business as usual with some precautions. Our offices are open and all services, including essential services like water, will still operate as usual. You may not have toilet paper, but the sewer still works!

If you need to reach us and would like to reduce in-person contact, there are options to connect with us over the phone or the internet. For information from any of our departments, call our main number at 250-550-3700. You can also email us at [email protected] or visit browse through our website for information. If you need to buy a dog license, you can do that online at www.dogcontrol.ca. And what’s most important, if you aren’t feeling well, follow the advice of the health authorities and stay home. Colds, the flu, and viruses aren’t a nice thing to share.

We encourage you to be smart about which sources of information you seek out during this time.

Beware of social media posts from unofficial sources and instead visit sources like Health Canada or the BC Centre for Disease Control.

Board and committee meetings are still set to happen as normal. If you’d like to receive updates and highlights instead of attending in person, you can sign up for the Board Bulletin e-newsletter at www.rdno.ca/subscribe

This is where we are at today, and we will continue to monitor the situation closely and will make any appropriate adjustments as recommended.