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Township of Centre Wellington Media Release: Managing the Impacts of COVID-19

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Managing the Impacts of COVID-19

 

CENTRE WELLINGTON – During Mondays’ virtual Council Meeting, CAO Andy Goldie presented Council with a report on how the Township is managing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic from an economic, social and service level perspective. 

 

COVID-19 has significantly impacted the ability to provide the services residents rely on due to the closure of all facilities, cancellation of all recreation programs, events and services.  Although our doors are closed to the public, staff have found innovative and alternate ways for the public to connect with staff through new websites, virtual online experiences, radio and Facebook town halls as well as the ability for residents to reach a staff member during business hours through the phone, email, website or social media for any questions or concerns during the pandemic.

 

In addition to the numerous ways staff have providing alternate ways of doing business, there have been significant changes to various legislation and new regulations by the Federal and Provincial Governments.  Staff have been required to adapt to these changes while operating as normal as possible.

 

“I am so proud to be a part of such an innovative and compassionate team” said Mayor Kelly Linton.  “Staff have gone above and beyond to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents during these uncertain times.  We are all navigating a new normal, and I am proud to say that despite all of these setbacks and changes to our normal operations due to the pandemic, we are still continuing to plan for and complete actions from our strategic plan, our roadmap that directs our council-staff team to make informed decisions, allocate resources, and provide the right programs and services that will continue to improve our quality of life in Centre Wellington.”

 

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Emergency Operations Centre Team (EOCT) was activated on March 12 to manage and make decisions in a coordinated manner.  The EOCT has met each business day through to April 15, and since meetings have taken place Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  The County Emergency Management Coordinator established a daily conference call between the County and all seven Wellington member Mayors and Chief Administrative Officers to manage and coordinate decisions on a County-wide basis where possible.  This resulted in a collectively agreed upon local declaration of an emergency on March 23, 2020.  These County-wide meetings also include updates from Dr. Mercer, Chief Medical Officer of Health from Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health, the OPP, Guelph Wellington Paramedic Services and other levels of government. 

 

Staff have made numerous decisions based foremost on the health, safety and well-being of our residents, staff and local businesses to ensure the economic viability of our community.

 

  • Several tax relief measures have been implemented to support our residents and businesses.
  • Finance staff and senior management have completed a high-level preliminary review of municipal finances.
  • Assisted the Centre Wellington Community Foundation in creating a new COVID-19 grant program to help support local not-for-profits.
  • Shop Local CW - A partnership between the Township and the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce gives consumers the ability to visit www.shoplocalcw.ca and purchase gift cards online, then redeem those gift cards at a later time, once businesses have re-opened their doors.
  • A comprehensive list of available business resources is available for local business owners on our website, additionally the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce is also tracking programs and support for business at www.cwchamber.ca.
  • Connect CW - a new virtual platform has been added to Connect CW, a one-stop community hub linking residents to activities, workshops and virtual experiences related to recreation, leisure, fitness, well-being, education, culture, arts and more.
  • Tourism and Downtown Initiatives – ongoing partnership with local Business Improvement Area to keep our downtowns thriving through beautification, promotion, development and preservation.
  • Mayor Kelly Linton and CAO Andy Goldie met with Regional Tourism Organization 4 (RTO4) staff and Ministry of Heritage, Sports, Tourism & Culture staff to begin the development of a hospitality and tourism recovery plan to support our local business industry.
  • Collaboration with the County to organize a first ever spring waste collection for residents across Centre Wellington.  This program will take place on the weeks of May 4 and 25 in the urban centres.
  • Daily to weekly updates by Mayor Kelly Linton on the Grand 101.1, as well as Facebook live town halls and a virtual town hall in partnership with the Chamber and all levels of government to keep residents up to date during these unprecedented times.
  • Public Works staff continue to manage and maintain roads, parks and facilities.
  • Environmental Services staff continue to operate and maintain our water and wastewater systems and facilities while protecting the environment and health and safety of our community.
  • Engineering Services staff will move forward with the capital project program for critical road, bridge, water and wastewater infrastructure construction this year.
  • Building staff continue to accept and review new building permit applications and inspections for construction deemed essential by the provincial order are continuing.
  • Planning staff continue to accept applications and are working with developers to review applications, working towards approval for construction projects when the emergency is over.
  • Recreation staff are completing facility maintenance needs and are now moving out into the parks to begin spring maintenance and grass cutting. Customer service continues in rescheduling rentals, providing refunds, and connecting with our senior members at the Victoria Park Senior Centre who are at home.
  • Corporate Services are ensuring the townships IT needs are supporting operational requirements, assisting with  electronic Council meetings, providing cemetery services, and monitoring the Township’s cash flow on a daily and weekly basis.
  • Bylaw Enforcement continues, including monitoring our closed facilities and educating residents about physical distancing on Township properties.
  • Our Fire & Rescue Services is ready and able to respond to all emergency needs and has supported other local municipalities efforts in recent weeks.

 

Staffing Update

  • All part time and temporary staff were paid between March 16 and April 5 as part of their notice period.
  • On April 5, 91 part-time, and temporary staff from the Community Services Department were placed on declared emergency leave.  In addition, 10 seasonal winter controls staff ended their contracts at the end of March/early April.
  • Summer student hiring and hiring of new staff have been delayed or deferred, depending on the length of the pandemic.
  • During the initial period of the emergency, several full-time staff continued to be paid while at home until measurements were implemented to protect staff work areas or arrangements were made for staff to work from home with access to laptops and VPN access.
  • All full-time staff are working in their existing roles and managing the various ongoing operational programs and services for the community.

 

Township Finances
As part of the presentation Dan Wilson, Managing Director of Corporate Services (Treasurer) provided Council with a financial update showing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to date.

  • The Township has an estimated loss of revenue between $690,000 and $820,000 mainly from facility rentals and program cancelations as well as lost investment income and other minor revenues. This is based on a projected start-up of services beginning July 3, 2020.
  • Staff have identified cost savings of between $520,000 and $690,000 to address the impacts which include a reduction of part time and temporary staff, delays in hiring, as well as reduction in expenditures in various operational accounts.
  • The Treasurers from the County and Wellington member municipalities are meeting on a regular basis to manage the financial situation across the County and review options for additional tax relief for our communities.
  • Staff are currently reviewing the 2020 Capital program projects and will be reporting back to Council regarding which projects can proceed, which projects may be delayed, and which projects may be put on hold due to the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Council approved placing the unaudited 2019 Surplus of $783,130 into a special reserve to be used to address COVID-19 financial impacts to the Township.
  • It is important to note that the Township has healthy reserves and temporary borrowing capacity which are in place for emergency situations.

Although uncertainty remains as to the duration of the emergency declaration, staff are preparing for updates to the Provincial essential services list and requirements as they are released in stages.  As we move forward, we will continue to abide by upper levels of government directives, continue to lobby for additional funding and programs for our local businesses and take bold steps to manage the remainder of the pandemic, as our main priority is the health and safety of our residents.  To view the presentation made at Council, please visit www.centrewellington.ca/emergencyplanning

This is a rapidly evolving situation; discussions and decisions are ongoing. Any changes in operations will be communicated and posted to the Townships website at www.centrewellington.ca/emergencyplanning and on our social media platforms, www.facebook.com/CentreWellington and Twitter www.twitter.com/CentrWellington

 

For more information:

 

Kendra Martin  | Communications Coordinator

 

Township of Centre Wellington | 1 MacDonald Square, Elora, ON  N0B 1S0

519.846.9691  x220  centrewellington.ca
Find us on Facebook and Twitter – join the conversation and engage with your community!

Facebook – www.facebook.com/centrewellington

Twitter - @CentrWellington

Connect with us at www.connectcw.ca

 

 

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