West Kelowna city hall

West Kelowna's municipal services are run out of buildings like this. Some staff, who've been working on the floor of a nearby hockey arena because of COVID-19 physical distancing guideliness, will be moved into portables.

Some municipal staff in West Kelowna will be shifted from a hockey arena to portable trailers.

The move is being made as the city, like other municipalities, begins to re-launch facilities and services that were shuttered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To provide staff with more elbow room under the physical distancing regulations, some employees have been working out of makeshift office environments set up on the floor of the Royal LePage Place arena.

The intention now is to bring those displaced workers out of the arena, but not back into the main municipal hall.

"We are tight, we are small, and we can't fit everybody back into the same spaces," city manager Paul Gipps said at a council meeting this week.

An unspecified number of portable trailers will be brought onto the site for the returning workers. At the hall, plexiglass shields will now provide a virus barrier between municipal staff and members of the public.

Many city buildings and services were closed or suspended by the pandemic. Some councillors praised Gipps for the municipal response.

"You've brought us through this unprecedented time very well so far," Coun. Jason Friesen said.

Since incorporation in 2007, West Kelowna's local government services have been run out of a variety of five repurposed and rented buildings. One previous portable trailer was rat-infested.

Voters defeated plans for a purpose-built city hall in 2016, but Gipps brought a new plan earlier this year. It will require the borrowing of up to $11 million and was approved by council in principle, but there is no start-date for the project.