The Economic Recovery Task Force held its third meeting this week, focusing on feedback it has received from working groups. It also considered options to improve processes in light of limited resources and staffing due to the pandemic.
Mayors and chairs from across Ontario, represented by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario, and the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, issued a call for action on the COVID-19 financial emergency.
Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham echoed the sentiments expressed by Ontario municipalities by saying, “We need immediate provincial and federal support to cover lost revenue and additional costs caused by the COVID-19 crisis.”
At his weekly press scrum, Mayor Andy Letham said he is concerned by behaviours he has witnessed or heard about across Kawartha Lakes — behaviours that could force a harsher response from city enforcement agencies.
“Some people out there are behaving like the pandemic is over,” the mayor said, “and it is not.”
“This behaviour could set us back months.”
In a far-reaching press scrum, Mayor Andy Letham and CAO Ron Taylor discussed policing in Kawartha Lakes, their hopes concerning the city deficit, information about aquatic programs and their initial impressions of a return to patio season across the city.
In an exchange with reporters, Letham responded to a question about how the George Floyd incident in the U.S. might impact policing locally.
Letham said that the police budget is approved by the Police Services Board, of which he is a member. Meetings have already begun, “and everyone is being open- minded about the future.”
Emily Turner, economic development officer responsible for Heritage Planning, made a presentation to council regarding a heritage conservation district study that would encompass an area of Lindsay from the Old Mill all the way south to include most of the neighbourhood surrounding St. Mary’s Church in Lindsay.
At a recent council meeting Councillor Doug Elmslie expressed worry that the province and federal government will soon start downloading more responsibilities on the backs of municipalities.
He recommended that “all surpluses be put in reserve for a rainy day because I fully expect that the feds and the province are going to start downloading services because of the debt loads they are carrying.”
Mayor Andy Letham and CAO Ron Taylor confirmed recently that the bulk of city staff laid off in April will be called back to work this month.
Council has voted to keep the local state of emergency going, given the province has extended their own to July 1. They have also voted 8-1 to keep CAO Ron Taylor in charge of the city until the end of summer.
Mayor Andy Letham told council that the local Emergency Operations Centre group made up of the hospital, paramedic service, fire department and police and public health unit all recommended that the local state of emergency be consistent with the province’s to avoid confusion.
Eleven different stretches of road across the city have been earmarked for this year’s life cycle extension.
These roads have been chosen by the public works department for either/or local asphalt paving, local surface treatment, micro-resurfacing, slurry sealing or crack sealing.
Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham says grocery sales were down 40 per cent over a typical long weekend in the city because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a wide-ranging media scrum Letham and CAO Ron Taylor shared their thoughts on the disappointing business trends from the recent Victoria Day weekend and what issues the city will be facing moving forward next month and even into next year.
On the grocery store numbers, Letham says that “unless residents use their local businesses they are going to lose them.”