DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative, for The Standard
KAWARTHA LAKES: Kawartha Lakes council introduced a plan to create two COVID-19 related recovery task forces, during a virtual meeting on Tuesday, April 28th. Before discussing a report on the creation of an economic recovery task force and a community pandemic recovery task force, CAO Ron Taylor presented the ideas to Councillors, during a verbal update on municipal COVID-19 measures. “Top of mind throughout the community, and the public is getting to the next phase [of] recovery,” Mr. Taylor said. “We are certainly not going to do it at the expense of response and of public and staff health and safety. But, having said that, it is an important element in emergency response and planning that we start to look at recovery.” Firstly, Mr. Taylor discussed the economic recovery task force. “We want to look at how we can support local businesses in recovery, where we can. We want to look at our building and development sectors and industry, and how we can support and streamline those areas. We also want to look at infrastructure stimulus,” Mr. Taylor explained. “We recommend, we also focus on vulnerable sectors. Now, looking at it from a local lens, we certainly are very reliant and active in tourism and agriculture, in the City of Kawartha Lakes, among others. So, we want to make sure we are taking a sector approach, and that we are mobilizing, but also resourcing specifically, to help support those specific sectors as best we can.” Mr. Taylor added the task force will prioritize construction projects deemed to be “shovel-ready.” “Let’s try to stimulate the construction and development industries and jobs,” he said. The City has also sent out a survey to local businesses, to get as much information on how the City can help as much possible. The report on the task force explained who will be involved with it. “Membership will include Councillors and business representatives with a direct knowledge of the impact of COVID-19 on local business and the economy. Composition may include: Local business organizations (Chambers, BIA, KLCFDC), industry associations, and community members representing a broad range of industry sectors. Sectors considered for the task force will include: agri-business, construction, culture, manufacturing, retail, services, and tourism.” Mr. Taylor explained this task force is important, as the community is looking to the City for leadership “in the recovery phases of our economy.” Mr. Taylor then moved on to explaining the community recovery task force, stating this task force will involve “looking at [the] not-for-profits, connecting [the] community service providers, and really supporting them.” “We want to focus on recovery for [the] health and human service sectors, whether their government led or run-for-profit led, or run. We want to look at community safety and well-being,” he said. “Vulnerable residents will remain a focus, whether that’s through food and housing security or other social service supports. It’s critical that we connect those groups and that our residents understand the multitude of support services and functions that are out there already.” He added, another focus will be to keep not-for-profits sustainable during the recovery period. The report stated this task force will also be responsible for “recommendations for partnerships and working groups, in order to best leverage existing programs and services” and for “identification of gaps in service delivery and recommendations, to address them.” Ward 8 Councillor Tracy Richardson praised the idea. “I know our community partners have been stepping up, and it’ll be wonderful to see what they have been doing in our community, so I think this next step is going to be really critical when we start rolling into recovery mode,” she said. Council later endorsed starting the process of creating these task forces. These task forces are expected to be formalized at a May 26th council meeting.