Mayor fears substantial tourism losses but says not the time to give up
Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham fears “substantial losses” depending on how long the city’s tourism-related businesses remain closed because of the pandemic.
The mayor, talking with local reporters at a weekly press scrum, says he has concerns about tourism and the upcoming long weekend but that it’s not time to give up on the season yet.
Letham shared that tourism income generated by shopping day trips from the Greater Toronto Area, houseboat rentals, camping sites and trailer parks would be significantly impacted because as of right now most of these facilities are closed.
The mayor reminded the press that simply opening is no guarantee that people will actually come.
“I hope that as much of the summer can be salvaged as possible,” he says.
Letham says he has faith that people will use their common sense this weekend and “blow off some steam” in a responsible manner.
He noted that police and bylaw officers will be out in force this weekend to ensure that social distancing and state of emergency regulations are still being followed to the tee. Letham said while the situation is improving because of most local residents buying in and staying home, “it is still not business as usual.”
Downtown Lindsay Reconstruction
The mayor says work on Kent Street is only two weeks behind schedule. The plan is still that construction will end on Lindsay’s main business thoroughfare for this year no later than June 30. From there the equipment will move to Lindsay Street.
The mayor reported that the Lindsay landfill re-opened with 350 cars accessing the facility on its first regular day of business. He shared that a typical day at the landfill sees 300 vehicles, and that with the new safety protocols in place limiting the site to only 10-15 cars at a time the typical wait for motorists was between 30 and 60 minutes to dump their loads. Letham reminds residents that the re-use bin at the landfill will not be open for the foreseeable future because of health concerns.
Trails and Boat Launches
The mayor shared with residents that the Victoria rail trail is open to ATV traffic only, and that additional signage has been added to remind riders of the safety protocols. Letham encourages riders not to congregate with other riders as that would be a violation of the state of emergency.
Similar signage is now in place at municipally-owned boat launches. On a boating safety note Letham reminded watercraft owners that the lakes are very cold and that caution around the water should be exhibited at all times.
Chief Administrative Officer Ron Taylor said a formal update of the city finances is to be provided to council on May 26.
The CAO is pleased that there is overall stability in the city operating budget, and he hopes the municipality will have the financial capacity to afford their fall capital budget projects. Taylor will have announcements at the council meeting about summer revenue generators like city-run summer camps.
Taylor added that the city is not yet in the position to rehire their laid-off staff and will not be, “until it is business as usual again.”