Mayor's Message Re: COVID-19 Crisis
Further to a message posted on our township website and Facebook page recently, I wanted to update everyone further on what other steps your council and staff are taking to help minimize the potential impacts of COVID-19 on our municipality.
I have spent considerable time each day since early March participating in conference calls with medical experts, reading any and all relevant materials from organizations like the Association of Municipalities and listening daily to CBC news reports in an effort to stay abreast of this rapidly changing pandemic.
As of this morning, 44% of COVID-19 cases in Canada are through community spread, now numbering over 2000. The city of Toronto today declared a state of emergency along with at least 87 other municipalities and First Nations before them.
An emergency is defined under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act as "a situation, or an impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise".
At this moment in time, Billings Township has not declared a state of emergency.
At the risk of overstating, physical distancing, at least two metres, frequent hand washing with soap and water, minimum 20 seconds, disinfection of any surfaces in contact with unknown persons are crucial for controlling this pandemic. The COVID-19 virus is capable of staying alive for 9 days on most surfaces and remains viable in cold weather.
Our Federal and Provincial Governments are both recommending strongly that wherever and whenever possible that non essential members of the public stay home. Our medical facilities and staff could easily become overwhelmed if we cannot flat line the spread of this virus. Worldwide, 20% of the population is currently in a lockdown! These are serious steps to try and reduce the spread of this virus which has killed so many, in particular the elderly and previously health compromised.
I sincerely hope that when this crises passes - and it will pass - if we made any errors in judgement, it was because we were too cautious rather than not being cautious enough.
There have been some changes in how your township continues to do business, for example, starting this week on Friday our council meetings will go with a virtual conference call. This will be open to the public to listen but like all normal council meetings, no direct participation. Details will be posted on our township website. Only time sensitive and important business will be dealt with in the short term.
Staff are involved in many calls and webinars as it relates to the Provincial State of Emergency and the new normal as it relates to municipal business. Staff have recently made some calls to some of our elderly and/or shut in residents to ensure they are doing ok and offer assistance if required and will continue to do this.
We have a group of volunteers on stand by that will deliver needed supplies to folks within our community needing assistance. A special thank you to this group!
On the topic of staff, the tax payers of Billings have an exceptional group of extremely motivated, talented, and dedicated staff looking after all our interests and keeping this township functioning in very trying times. Their numbers are few and we cannot afford to lose one of more so some tough and not always popular decisions have been made to protect their health and by extension, the health and well being of everyone.
I plan on further updates on a regular basis in an effort to continue communicating to everyone as to what we can all do to get past this current crisis.
The following is worthy of repeating: thanks for everything you're all doing, particularly the health sector workers, truck drivers, delivery persons, retail workers, and small business owners we so clearly depend on and take for granted when all is working well, and I would add, our volunteer fire fighters whom are second to none!
In closing, we are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place surrounded by nature and caring people, embrace that, better days are ahead.