Municipal offices adjusting as second wave descends

·2 min read

As Alberta grapples with the second wave in the COVID-19 pandemic, Sexsmith reduced the number of staff working at its town office last week.

Five staff members at the Sexsmith town office are working remotely but there have been no layoffs, said Rachel Wueschner, chief administrative officer (CAO).

“This will have no effect on town services,” Wueschner said.

Residents frequently access the office for development and building permit applications and bill payments and these services will continue to be provided, she said.

There are still two full-time staff at the office with others coming in as needed, she said.

Wueschner consulted council about her plans to reduce in-person staff at the office during the meeting last week.

Meanwhile in Beaverlodge, Nichole Young, an executive assistant in administration, said on Monday night no staff have been sent home so far.

There are eight staff at the town office, including two in Family and Community Support Services, Young said.

The Beaverlodge office continues to provide all services, she added.

Hythe’s village office remains open and typically has two to three staff at a time, said CAO Leona Hanson.

There have been no layoffs in village operations, Hanson added.

In Wembley, all four staff members continue to work at the town office but have the option to work at home if they feel it’s necessary, said CAO Noreen Zhang.

“We have taken steps such as mask wearing in common spaces and sanitizing stations throughout the office to ensure that we curve the spread of the virus,” Zhang said.

County of Grande Prairie administration has also made working from home an option for staff, said CAO Joulia Whittleton.

County administration also recently implemented a strategy to have masks in common areas and meeting rooms when physical distancing can’t be followed, she said.

Whittleton said county administration remains “committed to providing essential municipal services.”

Under the state of public health emergency declared Tuesday office workers are encouraged to work at home if possible.

Masks in indoor working places are only mandatory in the Edmonton and Calgary zones.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News