COCHRANE, ALTA. -- The Town of Cochrane is offering a reprieve to residents struggling to pay their utility bills during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councillors voted in favour of waiving penalties for late utility bill payment for a period of four months and allowing the deferral of utility bills until August 2020 for those in need.

Council approved the move Monday during a session conducted by video conference.

"Our hope here is to offer some relief to Cochrane residents, albeit short term, during this unprecedented time," said Mayor Jeff Genung in a statement. "Council will continue to look at all available options in order to support our community."

Cochrane residents who require the payment deferral option will not face penalties or a loss of a service.

Town council is also exploring potential supports for property tax.

As of Wednesday morning, the town has removed all COLT bus fees. Riders may now use the on-demand local bus service free of charge. The capacity on the two buses will be capped to six riders at a time to ensure physical distancing and the buses will undergo enhanced cleaning.

The waiving of the bus fee is set to remain in place throughout the pandemic or until council elects to reintroduce the charge.

For more information on Cochrane's COVID-19 response visit the town's website.