Kawartha Lakes mayor, Andy Letham, says the discussion about the COVID-19 pandemic is “no longer what we are shutting down, but instead how things can be opened responsibly.”
Businesses like drive-ins and golf courses could perhaps re-open soon, says the mayor, once the weather improves and the state of emergency has been lifted.
His comments came at a recent press scrum, where he noted that people “are sensible” and he could see those kinds of businesses opening early in the recovery. The mayor could even see restaurants re-opening with tables separated and operating at reduced capacities.
For the last three to four days senior staff members at the city have begun to talk about how the economy can be safely restarted.
“This economic re-opening will have to be done safely and properly and there will be more conversation at a council meeting on April 28,” the mayor says.
The mayor says he has been in conversations with MPP Laurie Scott to get permission for businesses like marinas to begin their behind-the-scenes work for the upcoming tourist season.
The mayor is hoping that marinas will be allowed to start prepping boats so that if and when the state of emergency is lifted the pleasure craft will be ready to go for the season. He also mentioned the possibility of city staff starting to prep arenas and pools once provincial permission is given.
When asked what the city has learned from the pandemic, Letham shared that he saw the COVID-19 event as a “learning experience for the entire city team.”
He did not want to make light of the human tragedy involved, but suggests that this “might be a dry run for something much worse further on down the road.”
The mayor says he is proud of his staff who he believes met the challenge and proved they know what they are doing.
Letham will chair an economic recovery task force with Deputy Mayor Pat O’Reilly, a councillor and senior staff.
Both Letham and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Ron Taylor both spoke about a $1.8 million grant that came from the provincial government to aid food security and housing during the pandemic.
Letham says even though the money is to be shared with Haliburton it made things much easier for both municipalities.
All other provincially run aid programs that are available would have to be applied for by the city, and there would be a waiting period before any cash available could be distributed.