LONDON, ONT -- Relief is now available to Londoners enduring financial pressure from covid-19.

During a noticeably different meeting city council extended payment due dates for several common bill and committed to find more ways to help.

At the start of the meeting councillors greet at a distance and seating at a distance. Precautions to slow the spread of covid-19 led to a first of its kind city council meeting.

Five council members were participating remotely along with most senior staff.

“We’re going to be able to get through this together,” said acting mayor Jesse Helmer.

City hall is pitching in by easing the financial burden of Londoners.

Council unanimously approved waiving interest and penalties for 60 days on March 31st tax bills, water and sewer bills and community improvement plan loan repayments.

Remote Councillors

Council also waived the $1.50 per bag fee for dropping off extra garbage at depots and 100 hotel rooms have been secured to help homeless Londoners physically distance from others.

Unexpectedly a long list of road construction projects were put on hold for two weeks so staff can see if covid-19 will impact contractors.

Helmer says staff will report back soon with more financial relief measures for council’s consideration.

“This is what we can do right now, but I think there’s more to come at the municipal level and the provincial and federal levels,” said Helmer.

Just two weeks ago that city hall committees discussed several contentious issues.

A pair of sidewalk installations dictated by the London plan but opposed by homeowners triggered the only sparks at the meeting.

Ultimately Fox Mill Crescent in Westmount will get a sidewalk but Camden Crescent in Masonville will not.

Council also approved extending overnight street parking from May 1st to October 31st.

Committee and council meetings will continue during the corona virus pandemic but only urgent items will make it onto agendas.

The gallery at council meetings will remain empty as city hall remains closed to the public.