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Kawartha Lakes looks ahead to virus recovery measures

DAN CEARNS Local Journalism Initiative for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: Conversations at the City of Kawartha Lakes are shifting towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. At a council meeting, on Tuesday, April 28th, past The Standard’s press deadline, councillors are expected to be updated by CAO Ron Taylor on measures the city has taken to respond to this pandemic and an update on the community’s recovery. Council members will also discuss the creation of an economic recovery task force and a community pandemic recovery task force. Mayor Andy Letham provided this information to reporters, during a telephone press conference, on Thursday, April 23rd. Regarding who will sit on the economic task force, Mayor Letham speculated it could comprise himself, deputy mayor Pat O’Reilly, some councillors with a business background, the city’s planning director and representatives from economic development and tourism departments. Mayor Letham also said the city is targeting May 12th, the current scheduled end of the provincial state of emergency, to review the possibility of opening boat ramps, landfills and the Victoria Rail Trail. However, Mayor Letham stressed this is not set in stone. “I do want to stress that this is not a done deal. If we continue on the route that we’re going, we’re on a good path, over the next two and a half to three weeks, then we can look at easing some of these things back in to the community, if we can do it safely,” he said, adding May 12th is only a target date. Mayor Letham stated these decisions will depend on the situation with the province’s state of emergency and the state of emergency at the municipal level. The City is planning to take a careful approach when it comes to reopening services and facilities. “We have to be slow, we have to be responsible,” Mayor Letham stressed. “We’ll work with the health unit, obviously. We need some benchmarks to go forward.” Though he feels the City has made progress in battling COVID-19, stating “it certainly seems like it has settled a little bit” and he feels Kawartha Lakes is “in good shape right now.” At a previous telephone press conference, on Tuesday, April 21st, Mayor Letham said he noticed a change in the tone of the way the virus situation was being discussed in Ontario. “The conversation has definitely shifted from shutdown to talking about recovery mode,” he explained. He stated the City is working with provincial government officials to bring Kawartha Lakes “back to some semblance of what it was before,” slowly. Mayor Letham believes the City is better prepared to handle a future crisis after going through this COVID-19 pandemic. “I think that’s probably a fair statement, probably fair for everybody, the province, the country. Whether this is a practice run for something much worse down the road I can’t say, but I think we’ve done a good job. We’ve got some good people here,” Mayor Letham explained. “Anytime we go through something like this, it obviously prepares us for the next time.”

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