Dysart to strike COVID-19 recovery committee
By Chad Ingram
The Municipality of Dysart et al will strike a COVID-19 community recovery committee, councillors supporting the creation of that committee during a May 5 meeting.
Regular meetings of municipal councils in Haliburton County were suspended in mid-March amid the pandemic. The province has granted municipal councils the ability to hold meetings electronically during the crisis, and within the past couple of weeks, council proceedings in the county have been resuming in an online fashion. Meetings are held via video conferencing platform Zoom, and broadcast via YouTube.
“A very key part, and very important to look at early on in any emergency, is recovery,” fire chief Mike Iles told councillors. “In this case, I think it’s very important for our community, our municipality, to see that we’re moving forward with recovery, and I think it’s very important, if not the most important part of this emergency, is how we get out of it, how we get out of it safely, how we can support our businesses, our seasonal residents, our residents themselves, to move forward here. So, that’s where this recommendation comes from.”
Iles is the municipality’s community emergency management co-ordinator, and has been heading up the meetings of its emergency control group throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Each of the county’s municipalities, as well as the county itself, has such a committee, consisting of fire chiefs or paramedic chiefs, and a cross-section of councillors and department heads. Iles said the recovery committee, which will ultimately be struck by the emergency control group, would likely continue to meet long after Dysart et al‘s emergency declaration has been revoked, and the emergency control group itself has stopped meeting.
Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy extended his thanks to Iles and the emergency control group.
“Definitely an unprecedented emergency that no one’s ever experienced before, certainly different than any of the desktop planning we’ve all experienced over a number of years,” said Kennedy, who is a retired EMS director of the County of Haliburton. “I think we’re doing extremely well and working in co-operation and conjunction with the county.”
Kennedy said recovery planning is an important part of any emergency.
“And it’s usually focused on economic recovery,” he said. “But when I’m looking at it, I also think that we also need to extend it out, that it’s a community recovery, and so many things are impacted, culturally, our arts community, spiritually, and our business community. So, it’s a broad-brush approach and I think we can be proud to help develop this recommendation moving forward.”
A report from Iles indicates that initial focus areas for the committee would include confirming a network of volunteer and business contacts; establishing preliminary budget needs; and establishing communication protocols. In addition, there are plans to establish a business transition lead and member groups, including those such as the BIA and chamber of commerce. Similarly, a cultural transition lead with working group members such as reps from the arts community, spiritual community and food banks would also be established. Engaging local financial institutions, enhancing shop-local programs and celebrating the re-openings of businesses are also listed in the report.
Kennedy said the municipality would work in conjunction with efforts at the upper-tier level of the county.
“County tourism, for example, is already underway with some recovery planning, so we’d work in conjunction with that,” he said.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea, and I know the BIA will be very keen to be involved with that,” said Councillor Nancy Wood-Roberts.
“The details would be worked out with the emergency control group,” said Mayor Andrea Roberts. “So the resolution is fairly vague, it’s just for support from council to get this started.”
The resolution was unanimously supported by councillors.