I want to take a moment before tonight’s proceedings to address the community and update everyone on what has been happening at the municipal level with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic. These past couple of weeks have presented many unprecedented challenges for both Council and Staff. I am very proud of how everyone has worked together as a team to rise to the occasion. I believe that we as a municipality, have made both proactive and responsible decisions to protect the community and the corporation. In many ways, Carleton Place has demonstrated leadership in our efforts to keep the community informed through our daily updates.
There is a lot of uncertainty right now in terms of how long the current measures to prevent Covid-19 will be required. Without a doubt, this impacts how we plan for upcoming activities. The best way to stay informed is to subscribe to the CP Scoop newsletter, follow us on social media and check our town website for updates.
2020 was gearing up to be a big year in Carleton Place with a number of significant projects planned. Today I want to give you a status report on some of those projects as well as on the seasonal services you have come to expect.
Public Works staff started road and sidewalk cleaning last week and will continue to work their way around Town during the coming weeks.
Questions about curbside leaf collection and the opening of the Compost Yard are 2 items I have heard about lately due to the nice weather. There are number of details that need to be reviewed before we are able to provide a firm answer on these services.
Design work will continue on our capital projects, specifically the Central Bridge, Gilles Bridge watermain crossing, and the Bridge Street Reconstruction. At this time, all Public Meetings related to these projects have been deferred.
In order to temporarily wrap up construction on the Francis Street Childcare Centre, the construction crew will finalize items to protect the structure and the kitchen renovation. This is being done in accordance with guidance obtained from the province. As the kitchen in the childcare centre is under renovation the town is not in a position to offer services to essential workers at this time.
We want to assure you that we are moving forward with the design and tendering of the Arena dressing room project. This will allow us to hit the ground running when the emergency order is lifted.
On April 3rd, the provincial government gave notice that it would be revising its list of essential businesses which has impacted new construction in Town. Residential construction projects can continue if permits were approved prior to April 4th.
Lanark County recently notified local organizations that provide support to vulnerable people in the community of an opportunity for financial assistance due to COVID-19. The County put out a call for applications so that they can act quickly once the funding is released.
The County has also increased their number of phone lines to alleviate busy signals with the increased call volume associated with Lanark Lodge and Social Services.
The Town has closed all outdoor play equipment including the skate park and pump track. Our parks and trails remain open with the understanding that those who use them respect the physical distancing guidelines.
Our Director of Protective Services is playing a key role in managing the crisis on a daily basis by participating in daily conference calls with key stakeholders at the provincial and local levels and sharing the information with me and our CAO as part of our daily update meeting and with the Emergency Control Group as required.
Our By-law and OPP Officers are busy patrolling parks, residential streets, trails and other public places to educate residents on social distancing and to enforce compliance with of gatherings of no more than 5 people.
In order to avoid any additional strain on our fire services, an open-air burn ban was implemented on Thursday, April 2nd.
You may have heard that some of our neighbouring municipalities have declared a State of Emergency. Currently, there is no need to declare an emergency in Carleton Place. While an emergency declaration allows the Mayor to take actions and make lawful orders it does not necessarily provide the Town with any additional funding. In addition, provincial requirements take precedence over those at the municipal level.
I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Stephen Walker, a well-known local Physician, to discuss the COVID-19 Assessment Centre which opened in Almonte on March 31st. This is a collaborative effort between the Carleton Place and Almonte Hospitals and is being staffed by physicians from both hospital sites, as well as local paramedics. The clinic has the ability to do both “curb side” and at home, outreach swabs, and to be seen by a physician and nurse for a complete assessment. In the first 5 days of operation, they have swabbed over 80 residents.
The Food Bank thanks all those who have and continue to donate during this stressful time. The Hunger Stop is always in need of both food and cash donations. Those wishing to donate non-perishable items are asked to call to set up an appointment for drop off or to make cash donations visit their website.
Council made the tough decision to lay off some staff in Childcare, Recreation, Pool, and Library facilities that are no longer able to be open to the public and where fees earned from the programs pay for the staffing costs.
Council also understands that this crisis has been difficult for families and businesses in our community and has therefore agreed to waive all penalties and interest on tax and water bills and has permitted an extra bag of garbage per week for families. Like families, the Town still has bills to pay. Council is working together to make the necessary decisions to ensure the Town’s finances are stable during this time.
Town staff are working to ensure the continuity of essential municipal services. If you have questions or concerns, please contact staff via email or phone.
I want to thank everyone for complying with the public health guidelines to stay home, wash your hands and practice social distancing. I recognize that following these orders has been difficult for our local businesses which have had to close, our residents who have lost their jobs and those with family or friends that have become sick. Please know that there is a whole community behind you who cares and wants to help.
If you are self-isolating at home and need help with having essentials delivered to you, there is a service for that. If you are struggling with personal hardships as a result of Covid-19, there is someone who will listen. I am proud to say we live in a Town where we take care of our neighbours, our seniors, our children and our vulnerable. The way we will get through this is by continuing to come together as a community and support one another. We truly are all in this together! Stay healthy and stay safe!