This time the technology worked well. Members of the media provided questions to Ashley Purdy using a phone only conference call and she relayed them to key members of the Emergency Control Group (ECG) who were using videoconferencing. This group is mandated by Provincial Legislation which also mandates an Emergency Plan (see link below). The Plan specifies – by role – who should be in the ECG – see list below. It’s clear that most are employees of the Town and because of legislated requirements, their names are not provided. Similarly, according to Chair Fire Chief Mike Vilneff, legislation does not require the meetings to be open to the public. So that was the answer to my first question: “Why are ECG meetings not open to the public?”
I also asked how quarantine rules are being enforced. In response, Police Chief Paul Vandegraaf said that Police will be enforcing in response to complaints by the public. Initially, offenders will be asked to comply but if they refuse then normal actions such as laying charges will be carried out. Over the past few days, Police Press Releases have emphasized the need to follow instructions for Canadians returning home to self-isolate for 14 days – it initially was a request and it’s now a law. Not mentioned at the Press Conference was the fact that there were some trailers and motor homes, obviously in transit from the U.S., who were parked in the Walmart parking lot and not obeying these directives. Police would enforce but they need Walmart or a citizen to “complain”. Penalties can be as much as $1M or 3 years in jail (see Press Release below).
My final question asked whether the recently announced directive to limit public social gatherings to 5 people applied to Supermarkets. Town Clerk Brent Larmer was of the opinion that supermarkets were exempt from this but a definitive answer would require seeing the associated regulations which have not yet been provided.
Other media questions did not get very useful answers. In brief:
- Robert Washburn (News Blog: Consider This) asked if Cobourg has yet received the funds promised by the Province – the answer was “No”. He also asked about relief from taxes related to School Boards since the Province promised a 90 day deferral. The answer was a referral to the Town’s announced tax measures (see link below).
- Cecilia Nasmith asked what were the most common questions to the Hotline recently announced (see Covid-19 page). The answer was that this info is not yet available but will be provided soon.
- Valerie MacDonald asked for more detailed statistics on the Virus impact in Northumberland but was told that these are not available.
In his sum-up, Mayor Henderson said that Communications Manager Ashley Purdy would pass on to the public, as needed, any decisions by the ECG. John also pointed to the recently established hotline (see Covid-19 page).
The screen grab shown above-right showed what the public could see. You can see the full meeting on You-Tube – see Link below.
County Council Special Meeting
Soon after Cobourg’s meeting, Northumberland County held a special Online Meeting to address issues mentioned in my post on the Partial Shutdown in Cobourg. The contentious move to provide free garbage tags was passed with an amendment. The final approved motion provided for one free garbage bag per household per week from April 1 to May 29 [Note: Later changed from April 1 to March 31]. The meeting format was different – Councillors used Zoom for videoconferencing and the media and public joined with voice only teleconferencing.
Links and Extra Information
- Town’s You-Tube page where Video of Press Conference is available.
- Quarantine Act Emergency Order – re law on complying with quarantine directive – Police Press release
- Town Planning to Financially help re Covid-19 – 22 March 2020
- Cobourg’s Emergency Plan – download copy of Plan
Members of ECG
- Head of Council
- EOC Director
- Emergency Information Officer (EIO)
- Public Inquiry Officer (PIO)
- Public Works Officer
- Community Control Group (CCG) Clerk
- Finance Officer
- Water and Electricity Utilities Officer
- Police Services Officer
- Fire Services Officer/CEMC
- Health Officer
- Social Services Officer
- Emergency Medical Services Officer