One year ago I declared Vancouver's first state of emergency

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Kennedy Stewart
March 19, 2021

One year ago today, just shortly after noon, I signed a bylaw declaring the first Local State of Emergency in the history of the City of Vancouver.

A few days earlier, I had worked with Dr. Patricia Daly, Vancouver Coastal’s Chief Medical Health Officer, and BC’s Health Minister Adrian Dix, to close all bars and restaurants for Saint Patrick’s Day to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our city.

I knew then that this global pandemic would present a challenge greater than any we had ever faced, and it did. The State of Emergency allowed us to take extraordinary measures to protect the city against COVID-19, especially our most vulnerable neighbours. 

In the days and weeks that followed, an army of local public health workers, City employees, non-profits, and peer organizations worked to defend Vancouver. There were thousands of rapid actions City staff took, from opening emergency shelters in community centres and setting up meal delivery programs to quickly install mobile sanitation facilities and coordinating PPE deliveries to front line workers. 

And as the worst of the first wave passed, we quickly introduced kilometres of slow streets, widened spaces for sidewalks, queues, pop-up plazas, and over 400 temporary patio permits to support small businesses.

Today, I’m reflecting on all of this hard work, the daily decisions made to protect the lives of people, especially our most vulnerable neighbours. And I reflect on just how successful we were.

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Vancouver’s performance was among the strongest of any major Canadian city. According to data compiled by the Canadian Urban Institute, our cases per capita were 2.5 times lower than Montreal and Edmonton, 2 times lower than Calgary, Québec, and Surrey, and 1.7 times lower than Toronto.

That didn’t happen by accident. It happened because we came together to look out for our family, friends, loved ones, and neighbours. It happened because we stood up for our city.

The pandemic is still far from over, but as the vaccine roll-out accelerates and a sense of hope starts to grow across our city, province, and country, I want to thank each and every resident, business, and organization for coming together and showing everyone what our city is made of.

I am so proud of our city, and every day I am reminded of how grateful I am to be your Mayor.

Let’s keep sticking together,


Kennedy Stewart 
Mayor of Vancouver

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40th Mayor of Vancouver. Please send messages to [email protected] rather than DM.