Ticket windows are being installed outside the main entrance to Chilliwack city hall this week so that people who need to pay their property taxes in person can do so safely.
The building has been closed to the public since March 19 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and since city hall typically sees an increase in walk-in traffic during tax season, this was their way of giving homeowners the necessary access to the building while keeping in place physical distancing measures.
“Due to the age and size of the building, there is limited space in public areas for physical distancing, making in-person payment of property taxes challenging,” according to the May 20 announcement. “In order to serve a greater number of people, many of whom are seniors, in the safest manner possible, the front exterior of city hall has been modified to include four ticket windows”
On Tuesday, work had begun on the four clear plexiglass windows, one of which will be wheelchair accessible. Each ticket window has a counter and two sides that are attached to the existing glass window and stick out about 30 centimetres. An opening at the bottom of the existing window has been cut out for transactions.
The ticket windows will be open to the public starting Monday, May 25.
In addition to directional signage, physical distancing stickers on the ground will direct people safely through the lineup. Exterior counters and payment machines will be cleaned between each person. Signage reminding individuals to stay home if they are unwell will also be prominently posted.
“We are here to serve our residents safely,” Mayor Ken Popove said. “There is so much that we can do virtually these days and I hope people will continue to call and email us and leave the front window service for those who need it.”
A drop box is also available 24 hours a day for those wanting to simply drop off their payment or completed homeowner grants.
Anyone with general inquiries is encouraged to continue to phone or email questions at this time. Should an individual arrive at city hall with a general inquiry, front window staff will take their information and have a member of the appropriate department respond via phone or email.
As in-person property tax payments lessen, more windows will be made available for general inquiries. City staff are investigating ways to safely reopen the rest of the building after property tax season.