Residents >> COVID-19

COVID-19 - FAQs


COVID 19 Update Header Photo, Blue with images of microorganisims and icons of hand washing, social distancing and staying home.

Frequently Asked Questions

BEACHES

Fort Erie beaches are open.

Bay Beach (also known as Crystal Beach)
The following operational changes have been put into place temporarily for Bay Beach:

  • Bay Beach (also known as Crystal Beach) is closed to anyone without a Fort Erie resident season pass. 
  • Resident season passes for Bay Beach are being offered to Fort Erie residents, Fort Erie taxpayers and Fort Erie short-term rental operators with proof of address such as a driver's license, passport, tax bill or any bill that shows the person’s name and address.
  • Bay Beach is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
  • The fee for obtaining a Bay Beach resident season pass has been waived for 2020. 
  • Resident season passes will be available at select times and locations.
  • Only 2,000 people will be allowed on Bay Beach per day.
  • Anyone trying to access Bay Beach without a 2020 resident season pass will not be allowed entrance to the beach. No exceptions.
  • Resident season pass holders must show their Bay Beach 2020 season pass to gain access to Bay Beach during business hours.
  • Niagara Region conducts regular water testing at Bay Beach. To learn the most up to date beach conditions visit: https://www.niagararegion.ca/living/water/beaches/

Other Fort Erie beaches are open to everyone. Physical distancing measures are required. This includes:

  • Maple Leaf Beach 
  • Bernard Beach 
  • Crescent Beach
  • Waverly Beach
  • Bowen Road Waterfront
  • Riverwalk and Freedom


BUSINESS SUPPORTS

How is the Town supporting businesses during this time?

The Town’s Economic Development Team is assisting businesses who have questions and are looking for additional information on government programs and supports. They can be contacted at edts@forterie.ca or by phone at (905) 871-1332. 

Business Availability Mapping Tool

The Town along with the Economic Development Team have also developed a Business Availability Mapping Tool, where businesses can log in to update the status of their business and residents can use the tool to find businesses to suit their needs.  You can find this tool on the Town’s main webpage at www.forterie.ca.

CEMETERIES

Can I visit local Cemeteries?

Cemeteries are open for residents to visit their loved ones.  We ask that you practice safe physical distancing and keep 2 metres apart from other families that are also visiting the sites and not gather in groups bigger than ten (10).

What is happening to protect people at funerals?

Graveside services are now permitting gatherings of up to 50. Indoor services are limited to 30% of the facility capacity. There is no contact permitted between funeral staff, mourners and cemetery staff, including pallbearers. Caskets/containers are to be placed on lowering devices by funeral staff, not family or mourners.

COUNCIL

Is it legal for Council to meet electronically?

New Provincial legislation allows municipalities to hold electronic meetings open to the public as well as meetings closed to the public, where an emergency has been declared, as all levels of government move to slow the spread of the virus. It is critical for the Town to move forward with important services that affect our residents and businesses. Protecting public health must be our top priority at this time, so holding virtual meetings eliminates the need for councillors and residents to leave their homes.

How can I make a delegation if it is an electronic meeting?

Physical delegations to Council are not available at this time, however, the Office of the Town Clerk remains committed to ensuring residents' voices are heard. Electronic participation by residents is available. If there is an item on the Agenda of interest to you, to register as a delegation and find out everything you need to know, click on the following link and contact the Clerk's staff as listed: forterie.ca/pages/CouncilDelegation. You will then be guided by staff with instructions for participating electronically in the meeting. 

Where can I find meeting dates and agendas?

Visit www.forterie.ca/pages/CouncilAgendasandMinutes and you will find all of the information you need.

Please tune in via our You Tube page to watch the meetings live at https://www.youtube.com/townofforterie.  Council will be conducting meetings via Zoom Teleconference during this time.

COVID HEALTH RELATED QUESTIONS

Where can I get Public Health advice?

Health-related questions or advice are to be directed to Niagara Region's Public Health hotline at 905.688.8248 or visit http://niagararegion.ca/covid19. The Town does not have public health officials on staff, but the Region is Niagara’s Public health authority, with a dedicated team of health professionals who can offer relevant, up-to-date advice.

How many cases are in Fort Erie?

The Regional Municipality of Niagara is responsible for this data.  On May 21st, 2020 the Region released the data specific to individual Municipalities in the region, including Fort Erie.  For the most up-to-date information on statistics please visit: https://niagararegion.ca/health/covid-19/statistics.aspx.

ENFORCEMENT

What is the Town enforcing with respect to the Emergency Order?

The Town is taking an educational approach to enforcement to begin with. At this point, the following will be investigated:

  • Any non-essential businesses (as per provincial guidelines) that continue to operate,
  • Public gatherings of more than ten people,
  • Anyone ignoring the physical distancing rules of outdoor recreational spaces (parks, sports fields, courts, beaches, dog parks, boat launches, spray pads). Playgrounds are still closed at this time.

The Town is not actively enforcing social distancing, individuals walking on trails and through Town parks, visits to grave sites at cemeteries (as long as there are no more than five people congregating, or no more than 10 for internment), businesses offering takeout or curbside pickup and birthday parades (as long as there is no congregating as per provincial directives).

 

Is the Town still issuing parking tickets?

Yes. However, it has been reduced to fire lanes, hydrants, handicapped parking infraction, and at the waterfront park boat launch parking lot.

 

Where can I direct my complaints?

The Town cannot accept complaints on social media. During normal business hours, after hours and weekends, concerns around enforcement of COVID-19 emergency orders should be directed to the Town of Fort Erie at 905-871-1600 Ext 5216 or submit an online form.

Do not call 911.

For all COVID-19 health matters and/or inquiries, please call the Public Health hotline at 905-688-8248 or 1 (888) 505-6074 (press option 7 then follow the prompts).

 

Can I still rent out my Short-Term Rental to Vacationers?

As of June 5, short-term rentals were allowed to resume operation. Property owners who operate short-term rentals, such as Airbnb’s, cabins and other properties need to obtain a short-term rental license. Those found disobeying these restrictions will result in a fine up to $300. The application form for the short-term rental license can be found here. For more information regarding these changes please visit the Government Ontario's website at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/list-essential-workplaces

 

Can I still have a Garage/Yard Sale?

The Town of Fort Erie is discouraging private garage/yard sales at this time.  Garage/yard sales that are not operated as a business are not required to be closed under the emergency order closing non-essential businesses (O.Reg. 82/20). However, they should still make best efforts to comply with physical distancing guidelines and advice from public health officials.

 

Social gatherings of more than ten people are prohibited by O. Reg. 52/20.  Residents are allowed four (4) garage/yard sales in a calendar year.  Social distancing is to be observed and the homeowner must enforce the rules around number of people in one place.  The number of people allowed at the sale includes the homeowner and helpers on site. (Example: The homeowner and their spouse/partner are outside running the sale, then only three (3) other people are allowed on site.)

 

If you have concerns regarding the number of people gathering at a garage/yard sale, please visit our enforcement page at:

https://www.forterie.ca/pages/COVID19EnforcementClosures for ways to report violations of the emergency orders.  If residents are found to not be complying with the emergency orders, then warnings and/or fines can be issued.

 

FIRE

 

Is the Town part of the Ontario burn ban? Can I have a fire? Can I burn brush?

Fort Erie is not currently under a Fire Burning Ban.  The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF) places fire daytime burning restrictions between April 1 & October 31 every year in Registered Fire Zones.  Fort Erie does not fall under any of these zones at this time. 

A reminder that Fort Erie does have a Open Burn By-law and we want to remind residents to follow the rules under this By-law No. 167-03 https://www.forterie.ca/Applications/Clerks/Bylaws.nsf/bylaws/2003-167/$FILE/2003-167.pdf.

PARKING

Do I still have to pay for parking at Parking Meters and Municipal Lots?

During the March 23, 2020 Council made several temporary changes to the fees and charges schedules during COVID-19.  These changes included; waiving payment for on-street parking or in a municipal parking lot until June 30, 2020. This information may be updated at the discretion of Staff or Council at anytime.

Members of the public using the Boat Launches to launch watercraft will require a parking pass obtained from the Pay and Display meter at that location or to purchase seasons passes (see Parks/Boat Launches for further information).

Parking enforcement will also be limited to safety-related issues, including but not limited to, fire-routes, accessible parking, no-parking areas and fire hydrants until June 30, 2020.

 

PARKS/BOAT RAMPS

What is being done at the parks and playgrounds in the Town?
Parks will be monitored periodically.

Surfaces at parks such as playground structures, benches, tables, waste receptacles, park gates and handrails are not being sanitized.

Park visitors are strongly encouraged to practice personal safety protection measures as published by Public Health.  Parents and caregivers are also strongly encouraged to supervise and enforce personal safety protection measures for children under their care.

Dog parks, skate parks, multi-purpose courts and sports fields are now open.

The following playgrounds have also been closed.  Parks marked with * have been fenced off:

*AC Douglas Park 1

Albert Street Park

*Bay Beach

Bill Connelly Field

*Bowen Road Park

*Crystal Beach Waterfront Park

*Crystal Ridge Park

Douglas Park

*Energy Field

*Ferndale Park

Goderich Street Park

*Lion's Sugarbowl Park

Madelaine Faiazza Memorial Park

Optimist Park

Ott Road Park

Ridgeway Lions Field

*Stevensville Memorial Park

*Stevensville Mini Park

Are Boat Ramps Open in Fort Erie?

Yes, Boat Ramps are open in Fort Erie.  You can use the pay and display machines on site or purchase seasons passes.  (The Boat Ramp at Pt. Abino, commonly known as “Poverty Bay” is not currently open due to the high water in the area.  It has been determined that it is unsafe to open this ramp at this time. This situation is being frequently monitored and staff will update the status as soon as it is safe to do so).

Seasons passes for boat ramps for the upcoming spring and summer are available for $100 (taxes included) for the entire boating season. Customer Service at the Town are able to take information over the phone to fill out the passbook and take VISA credit card payments only. The individual can then request a pick-up in the parking lot at the Town to be handed a pass by an employee, or to have the pass mailed to their address.

PLANNING/BUILDING

 

How are building permits being handled?

The Planning and Development Services department is continuing to process building permit applications and are performing inspections. Any new building permits, drawings and associated building permit fees can be dropped off at Town Hall by ringing the bell on the front outside door, in the overnight drop off box or by emailing the application and associated documentation to building@forterie.ca.

 

What about Large Drawing and Application Submissions?

Large drawings and applications can also be sent by email to building@forterie.ca. Please keep in mind, that although we will accept the drawings and applications by email, building permits must have the associated fee before they will be processed and can be sent via mail, courier or placed in the overnight drop box. For the digital application for a building permit, please visit: https://www.forterie.ca/pages/BuildingPermitApplications

 

How are building inspections being conducted?

For building inspections, we ask that the inspector attend the site alone and if necessary, the inspector can call the specific tradesperson or the site supervisor to address any concerns.  Inspection reports will continue to be emailed to the appropriate people and if there are any concerns please contact the inspector directly. Building inspections can also be scheduled by emailing building@forterie.ca, please be reminded that 24-48 hours notice for inspections is required. 

How are planning applications being handled?

For planning applications staff will accept applications via email at hgalloway@forterie.ca and cheques can be dropped off as described above. All applications will be processed as far into the process as we can. Plans are currently underway to begin holding virtual Planning Act open houses and public meetings in June. The department's goal is to continue to process planning applications as usual.  Planning applications and fees can be found here: https://www.forterie.ca/pages/Applications,Fees&Guidelines

 

What about pre-consultation applications?

For pre-consultation applications we will continue to accept applications and payment online at the following link: https://www.forterie.ca/resource/eservicesPlanPC.xsp

Pre-consultation meetings continue to be held via Zoom and our schedule will remain the same as before (second and fourth Thursday of every month).

 

Is the Committee of Adjustment still meeting?

During the current emergency order banning public meetings, the Committee of Adjustment meetings will be virtual meetings. Residents are able to participate in the meeting by Zoom (audio/video via internet or telephone) or by sending comments to the Secretary-Treasurer of the Committee of Adjustment. The meeting will also be streamed live on the Town's YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/TownofFortErie). Further information can be found here: https://www.forterie.ca/pages/CommitteeofAdjustmentHome

TAXES & WATER PAYMENTS

Tax and Water Due Dates & Payment Options during COVID-19

While Town facilities will be closed to the public, residents can still access Town services online, or contact Town representatives at www.contactus.forterie.ca or 905-871-1600, Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Alternative options for those needing to make a payment can be found at: www.forterie.ca/pages/DueDatesPaymentOptions

Town Hall has a 24-hour drop-off box that is conveniently located in the parking lot of the main entrance.  Alternatively, mail can be sent to 1 Municipal Centre Drive, Fort Erie ON L2A 2S6. If you are arriving with a delivery at either Town Hall or the Gibson Operations Centre, please use the buzzer and someone will assist you.

Will my Tax PAP payment be withdrawn from my bank account?

  • For accounts enrolled in the 10-month tax payment plan - bank withdrawals will continue as scheduled either on the 15th or last business day of the month.
  • Final tax bills for residential properties will have due dates on July 31, 2020 and October 30, 2020.
  • Final tax bills for business properties will have due dates on August 31, 2020 and October 30, 2020.

Any questions concerning the above please call Town of Fort Erie at 905-871-1600 during business hours

Will my Water PAP payment be withdrawn from my bank account?

Water bills will continue to be billed on a monthly basis.

For accounts enrolled in the water PAP plan, the bank withdrawal date will remain as scheduled on the 3rd business day of each month

Any questions concerning the above please call Town of Fort Erie at 905-871-1600 during business hours

What fees, penalties and charges will be waived during COVID-19?

Effective March 23, 2020 until June 30, 2020:

  • Penalties for non-payment or late payment of taxes levied and charged in 2020;
  • Penalties for non-payment or late payment of water and wastewater rates billed in 2020;
  • Late fees for business licences applications and renewals;
  • Charges for any cheques or pre-authorized payments (PAP) returned for non-sufficient funds (NSF) or payments stopped by the payor;
  • Payment for on-street parking or in a municipal parking lot,
  • Water services shall not be disconnected by the Town of Fort Erie for non-payment of water and wastewater billings until June 30th, 2020.

Why did I receive a 2020 Property Assessment Notice from MPAC?

MPAC is continuously reviewing properties. You may have received a Notice for one of the following reasons:

  • change to property ownership, legal description, or school support;
  • change to the property’s value resulting from a Request for Reconsideration, an Assessment Review Board decision, or ongoing property reviews;
  • property value increase/decrease reflecting a change to the property; for example, a new structure, addition, or removal of an old structure; or
  • change in the classification or tax liability of the property.

Your 2020 Property Assessment Notice shows the assessed value of your property based on a January 1, 2016 valuation date and will be the basis for your property taxes for the 2021 property tax year.

The valuation date, established by the Ontario government, is a fixed day to which all properties are valued. In simple terms, the value is the price your property might reasonably have sold for in its current state and condition on January 1, 2016.

TENDERS, RFPs and RFQs
How do I submit tenders, RFPs and Pre-qualification submissions?

All Tenders, RFPs and Pre-Qualifications are to be submitted through the Town's bidding portal at https://www.biddingo.com/forterie. Please review the specific requirements in each bid document.
Public openings of tenders will be conducted via teleconference. Please monitor Biddingo for your respective bids for calling information. Alternatively, results will be posted to the Biddingo website shortly thereafter. Please direct any questions regarding this procedure to Randi Martins, Manager of Procurement at rmartins@forterie.ca.

TOWN OPERATIONS & EMPLOYEES
 
What Town facilities are closed to the public?

Town Hall
Gibson Operations Centre
Fire Halls
Leisureplex Arena and Banquet Hall
Crystal Ridge Arena and Community Centre
Fort Erie Historical Museum
Railway Museum
Economic Development and Tourism Services Office on Garrison Road
Fort Erie Public Library (All Branches)
 
While Town facilities will be closed to the public, residents can still access Town services online, or contact Town representatives at 
www.contactus.forterie.ca or 905-871-1600, Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
Town Hall has a 24-hour drop-off box that is conveniently located in the parking lot of the main entrance.  Alternatively, mail can be sent to 1 Municipal Centre Drive, Fort Erie ON L2A 2S6. If you are arriving with a delivery at either Town Hall or the Gibson Operations Centre, please use the buzzer and someone will assist you.

 
Will critical services be impacted?
 
All critical services, including water and wastewater as well as fire services will continue to operate to support our community. For after-hours services, including road or wastewater operations, please call 905-871-1600. For emergency assistance from fire services please call 911.
 
I think my home water meter is broken.
 
We will not be doing water quality site visits inside the home at this time. This includes in-home water meter repairs and in-home extraneous flow inspections.
 
What about public meetings and open houses?
 
The Town of Fort Erie will issue a future notice advising of the rescheduled Open House and Public Meeting dates.
 
What are essential services with respect to Town services?
 
Provincial orders have resulted in the closure of facilities and outdoor amenities to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 
Under the current provincial orders, it is the responsibility of each municipality to determine what is essential. If you see Town crews working, those activities have been deemed essential by the municipality.

 
How does the Town determine what is deemed essential?
 
During the State of Emergency, the Town’s objectives are to ensure the delivery of essential services; protect the safety and security of the public and staff; ensure the Corporation remains financially and fiscally responsible; and continue to work with our partners including Niagara Region, Niagara Region Public Health, among others. The Town is taking a balanced approach in its decision making on what services need to be delivered based on those objectives.
 
What type of services will be delivered?
 
Water, sewer, road and core infrastructure maintenance as well as construction that is deemed critical will continue. As well, the Town will continue to maintain our buildings, cutting grass in parks and sports field to control weeds, overgrowth and ticks. This will also allow the Town to open these facilities more quickly once the emergency is past and ensures no additional costs are incurred to bring parks and fields up to appropriate standards.
 
Services, programs and service levels are subject to change based on the evolving circumstances of COVID-19. For the latest information check the Town’s website at 
www.forterie.ca/pages/COVID19News.

What is the Town doing to reduce the risk to Town workers?

The Town takes the safety of our employees seriously and regularly consults with the Ministry of Labour, as well as regional, provincial, and federal public health agencies. The Town is safeguarding municipal staff by taking a series of measures to limit contact between employees and the public and minimize exposure to COVID-19.

All employees are required to stay home if sick and to use the self assessment tool provided by the province. Employees are required to self isolate in accordance with the assessment tool if deemed necessary. This is our first line of defense in protecting our employees.

For those employees that are at work, we have taken many steps to minimize the risk, including but not limited to:

Staggering shift starting times to minimize the number of staff that encounter each other;

  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning our vehicles and facilities;
  • Deploying staff to satellite locations to minimize the number in any one area;
  • Providing hand cleaning supplies to all crews;
  • Changing how we do our business to minimize staff interactions;
  • Where possible, separating workplaces using physical distancing guidelines.
     

Shouldn’t municipal workers be physically distancing or following public health guidelines?

Public health guidelines are considered in our day to day work. Employees are regulated under the Ontario Health and Safety Act and in addition to working in accordance with the act we also have policies, procedures and guidelines that are specific to town staff.


Many of the essential services that the Town provides require the employees to work in crews to perform the work safely. Guideline around COVID-19 do not replace existing health and safety regulations. Work that required crews before this emergency, still requires crews during the emergency.

Why is there more than one employee in a truck or Town vehicle?


The provincial order limits groups of people to ten or less. The Town endeavors to limit the number of staff in any Town vehicle (excluding Fire Services) to limit staff interactions. When this is not possible, all appropriate regulations and guidelines under the Ontario Health and Safety Act and Ministry of Labour are being followed.
 
Why is the Town cutting grass and maintaining sports fields? Aren’t they closed?


Cutting grass in parks and sports fields allows the Town to control weeds, overgrowth and ticks. It also ensures that the Town does not incur additional costs to try and bring fields or parks back to appropriate standards. In the long run it ensures our fields will be financially viable, and ready for the community when the emergency is lifted. 
 
Why are contractors continuing to work on Town Construction Projects?
 
Construction and all supporting services which ensures the safe and reliable use of core infrastructure, such as water, sewer, roads, bridges, etc., are considered essential services. 
 
The Town is reviewing projects on a “project by projects basis” and are only proceeding with construction on projects that are considered critical in the short-term or an emergency. This includes, but is not limited to, the replacement of infrastructure that has failed or has the potential of failure, results in the mitigation of environmental concerns or could result in damage to private or public property.  
 
What else can be done to protect Town employees?
 
The Town continues to monitor the situation daily and we will make modifications to the way we do our business as necessary to mitigate risks and comply with provincial regulations.

TRANSIT

 

Are the buses running?

Fort Erie Transit including FAST is operating on a reduced transit schedule.  Currently the Inter-Municipal route from Niagara Falls to Fort Erie is running on its regular schedule. For a complete updated schedule, visit www.fetransit.ca. If there are any changes in the provision of these services, a notification will be posted on www.fetransit.ca.

Recommendations from Canada’s Top Health Doctor and Niagara Regional Public Health suggests that individuals should wear face coverings, especially in places where physical distancing cannot be achieved. One such place is when riding Public Transit. As more businesses start opening up and people return to work and more regular activities, public transit riders will begin to increase, making it more difficult for individuals to be properly physically distant from others. In order to protect yourself and others around you, we encourage transit riders to wear face coverings.

Face Coverings on Transit

WASTE

Is garbage and recycling still being collected?

Waste management is a regional government responsibility. While garbage and recycling are still being collected, the Region has made some temporary changes. To learn more, please visit: https://www.niagararegion.ca/waste/COVID-changes.aspx

Effective Monday, May 25, curbside leaf and yard waste limits will be removed for single-family homes and apartments with six units or less. There may be delays for the collection of leaf and yard waste. Ripped leaf and yard waste bags must still be re-bagged or placed in another container to ensure material can be collected. Residents should continue to bag their organic and garbage materials before placing it at the curb. Curbside collection of large household item / bulk goods will continue to be suspended until May 30. Residents are encouraged to hold onto their large household items until this service resumes on June 1.

I have witnessed Illegal Dumping, what do I do?

Contact Crime stoppers https://crimestoppersniagara.com/

Call Waste Info Line at 356-4141 or 1-800-594-5542

Or report on-line https://www.niagararegion.ca/waste/contact/dumping/

Can I use the Landfill sites?

The Niagara Region announced that as of May 13, 2020, landfill sites will be re-open for regular service.  For up-to-date information regarding the landfill sites, please visit: https://www.niagararegion.ca/waste/covid-changes.aspx