MV staff report on local impact of COVID-19

At the April 21st Special Council meeting, members of Madawaska Valley Council heard from staff about the impact locally of COVID-19. CAO Suzanne Klatt had promised regular updates for Council, using a template that covers all departments. Photo Madawaska Valley Facebook

Lower revenue: Klatt reported on the implications of Council extending the waiver of interest on current tax instalments from April 30 to June 30. Because of deferred payments from taxpayers, she said the municipality experienced a reduction of 18.5 percent for the March tax billing. She noted that many taxpayers had already paid their March instalment prior to COVID-19. To date, payments for the April instalment is currently 68.5 percent lower than normal but Klatt pointed out that the majority of payments are usually received in the last week of April, being post-dated cheques or instalments scheduled to be paid on the due date.

Waste site usage: At the April 7th meeting, Council had discussed the municipality’s messaging to cottagers. Because of concern that the provincial Stay Home directive may be ignored, Operations Manager Hilary Kutchkoskie was asked to review waste site usage to see whether volumes had increased at the landfill site. He reported figures for January through March saying, “I did notice a higher count of cars in some instances…. Bark Lake had increased traffic vehicle count and the garbage was pretty well the same from 2019 to 2020. Wilno had more vehicle count and a little bit more garbage. And Combermere actually went down in garbage…. with the exception of cars – more cars came.” He told Council he will report figures for April next month.

By-Law enforcement: Klatt said, “Many phone calls received prior to Easter Weekend were about seasonal residents not coming to the area, asking us with concerns that they were not isolating or coming only for the weekend. All complaints received by the By-Law Officer were forwarded when warranted either to the OPP or to public health, depending on the complaint and depending how the provincial order was not being adhered to.”

Klatt presented the report from the By-Law Enforcement Officer Corwin Quade which covered the first two weeks of the COVID-19 restrictions. She told Council that every complaint received has been addressed, and either referred to OPP or to public health as required.

Week One: Quade visited four locations. He dispersed a group of 8 to 10 people at the outdoor rink beside PJYCC after giving them warnings, and issued four warnings for people who were gathered at Crooked Slide Park. He received quite a few complaints about social distancing at the local grocery stores. After visiting both stores, he was satisfied the owners are doing the very best they can to put the message out and their staff are being very vigilant also. However, he observed individuals visiting in the parking lot without maintaining safe distancing. He also saw many families going in together and not following the guidelines posted outside that recommend only one person per family at a time should go into the store.

Week Two: the By-Law Enforcement Officer was called out to two locations: Stafford Street in Barry’s Bay and a campground complaint in the Combermere area. He provided people with the necessary information and reported everyone is aware what they are required to do to adhere to the provincial order.

Messaging: Klatt said staff continue to reference the provincial and federal messaging. “There is no different municipal message that we can give. I did want to give a shout out and thank the cottage associations. We have various cottage associations that have been absolutely wonderful in communicating with their members and they are sharing their messages between cottage associations as well. I just wanted to say that staff appreciate the assistance and I believe that the seasonal residents and the members of their association appreciate the information that they are providing.”

Event planning: Mayor Kim Love strongly urged that anyone planning an event should consult the Renfrew County and District Health Unit (RCDHU) as early as possible. She said, “In the end they are the ones deciding what is acceptable and can go forward, so you might as well work with them. If there are any people who want to organize groups to assist people with groceries or special take-out dinners, please talk to the health unit to find out if it is something that is allowed. They can probably give you good direction and you can still stay safe and have your activity.”

Fishing: Love added that Madawaska Valley has not closed its boat launches; they remain open to the public. She said, “We recognize a lot of people who live here may wish to launch a boat. Some municipalities have closed their boat launches.”


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