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COVID-19 Information

*Page Updated: April 1, 2020, at 3:00pm

The following page has been provided as a resource to residents and business owners regarding COVID-19.

For details about the current status of COVID-19 in our community, and ways you can protect yourself, visit the Grey Bruce Public Health website.

Everyone should practice good basic hygiene as a preventative measure to protect against the novel coronavirus and other viruses in this cold and flu season.

  • wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • sneeze and cough into your sleeve
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • avoid contact with people who are sick
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • stay home if you are sick

For details about the current status of COVID-19, and ways you can protect yourself, visit the Grey Bruce Public Health website.

The Town of The Blue Mountains places the health of our residents and visitors first, and as such, we are ensuring open lines of communication with the Public Health Unit and Grey Bruce Regional Health Services. As the regional leader, we are following the advice and best practices as recommended by the Public Health Unit.

The Town of The Blue Mountains has closed all municipal facilities, effective immediately until April 17, 2020. Facility closures include: Town Hall, The Blue Mountains Public Library, Beaver Valley Community Centre, Craigleith Community Centre and Ravenna Hall.

In addition, all Committee of the Whole, Council Meetings and Committee of Council and Board meetings have been cancelled until April 17, 2020, with the exception of the Monday, March 30, 2020, Special Meeting of Council. The Special Meeting of Council will be live-streamed to the Town website for the purposes of: 

  1. the appointment of an individual to fill the vacant seat of Council including the swearing in of an individual to Council
  2. to approve the recommendations and minutes of the March 10th, 2020 Committee of the Whole and the March 16th, 2020 Special Committee of the Whole meeting;
  3. to consider recommendations regarding the 2020 Draft Budget, including consideration of adoption of the 2020 Draft Budget;
  4. any additional time sensitive reports as approved by the Chief Administrative Officer in consultation with the Mayor and/or Deputy Mayor; and
  5. to consider recommendations regarding Council participation at an electronic Council Meeting, where required

All scheduled public information centres, and public meetings have also been postponed until a later date.

As of March 25, 2020, Mayor Alar Soever has declared a State of Emergency for the Town of The Blue Mountains in accordance with Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The decision was made in conjunction with the Towns leadership team and Emergency Control Group in response to the impacts of COVID-19 on the community.

What does "State of Emergency Mean?

An emergency is defined under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act as “a situation, or an impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise”  [Section 1, definition of an emergency].

Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, only the head of council of a municipality (or his or her designate) and the Lieutenant Governor in Council or the Premier have the authority to declare an emergency. The Premier, the head of council, as well as a municipal council, have the authority to terminate an emergency declaration [Sections 4 (1), (2), (4)].

The declaration of an emergency provides the Head of Council with certain tools to address the situation including, but not limited to, those listed below.

General and Government:

  • [Section 4 (1) permits a head of council to “take such action and make such orders as he or she considers necessary and are not contrary to law” during an emergency.]
  • [Some situations may require extraordinary measures be taken or expenditures be made to maintain or restore essential services. A declaration of emergency may allow a head of council to expend funds outside of his or her spending resolutions and/or the regular approval process of the municipality.]
  • [Whether due to a loss of infrastructure or social unrest (e.g., a riot), a crisis situation has the potential to threaten a council’s ability to govern. In such cases, extraordinary measures may need to be taken. Section 4 (1) provides for extraordinary measures, not contrary to law. Section 55 (1) of the Police Services Act provides for the creation of special policing arrangements during an emergency.] 
  • [Experience demonstrates that the media and public often view the declaration of an emergency as a decisive action toward addressing a crisis. It must be made clear that an “emergency” is a legal declaration and does not indicate that the municipality has lost control. An emergency declaration provides an opportunity to highlight action being taken under your municipal emergency response plan.]
  •  [A declaration of emergency on the part of another level of government (e.g., lower-tier, upper-tier, provincial, federal) may indicate that you should declare an emergency within your municipality. For example, in the event of a widespread disaster affecting numerous lower-tier municipalities within a county, the county will likely need to enact its emergency response plan and should strongly consider the declaration of an emergency. In some cases, however, a declaration of emergency by a higher level of government may provide sufficient authorities to the lower-tier communities involved (e.g., municipalities operating under the authority of a provincial or federal declaration).]

Legal:

  • [Section 11 (1) states that “no action or other proceeding lies or shall be instituted against a member of council, an employee of a municipality, an employee of a local services board, an employee of a district social services administration board, a minister of the Crown, a Crown employee or any other individual acting pursuant to this Act or an order made under this Act for any act done in good faith in the exercise or performance or the intended exercise or performance of any power or duty under this Act or an order under this Act or for neglect or default in the good faith exercise or performance of such a power or duty.” Section 11 (3), however, states “subsection (1) does not relieve a municipality of liability for the acts or omissions of a member of council or an employee of the municipality….”]
  • [The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act provides that persons who assist in connection with a declared emergency are considered “workers” under the Act and are eligible for benefits if they become injured or ill as a result of the assistance they are providing. This is in addition to workers already covered by the Act.]

Operational:

  • [Section 4 (1) permits the head of council to “take such action and make such orders as he or she considers necessary and are not contrary to law to implement the emergency plan.” Section 13 (3) empowers a municipal council to “make an agreement with the council of any other municipality or with any person for the provision of any personnel, service, equipment or material during an emergency.”]
  • [In the event of a large-scale crisis, such as an epidemic or prolonged natural disaster, municipal resources may not be able to sustain an increased operational tempo for more than a few days. This is particularly true if emergency workers are injured or become ill as a result of the crisis. In such a case, the municipality may need to utilize outside emergency response personnel. Section 13 (3) provides for mutual assistance agreements between municipalities.]
  • [Provincial response (e.g., air quality monitoring, scientific advice, airlift capabilities, material resources, etc.) may involve numerous ministries and personnel. Activation of the municipal emergency response plan, including the opening of the Emergency Operations Centre and meeting of the Community Control Group, can greatly facilitate multi-agency and multi-government response. ]
  • [Section 13 (2) authorizes the Solicitor General, with the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, to make agreements with the federal government. In Canada, federal emergency assistance is accessed through, and coordinated by, the province. The declaration of an emergency may assist a municipality in obtaining federal assistance.]
  • [Evacuee and reception centres often use volunteers as staff. As noted above, the declaration of an emergency enacts certain parts of the Workplace Insurance and Safety Act related to volunteer workers. Secondly, an evacuation or sheltering of citizens has the potential to generate issues pertaining to liability. Section 11 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act may provide municipal councilors and employees with certain protections against personal liability.]

Economic and Financial:

  • [The rerouting of people and vehicles poses a potential liability risk. Keeping persons from their homes and delaying commercial traffic are both sensitive issues. Section 11 of the Act may provide certain protection from liability. Section 4 (1) allows for extraordinary measures to be taken, providing they are not contrary to law.]
  • [The declaration of an emergency may facilitate the ability of the municipality to respond to economic losses.]

The Towns leadership team is meeting regularly to assess the situation. The Town of The Blue Mountains would like to assure residents and visitors that all critical and essential municipal services will continue to operate as normal.

The Town will continue to offer online services and phone services by calling 519-599-3131.

The following list highlights the status of municipal services at this time:

  • Waste Collection 
    • Curbside waste collection will continue to operate as normal and on your regularly scheduled collection day.

Reducing the Spread of COVID-19 

  • All personal hygiene and sanitary products that would typically be put in the Green Bin, including used tissues, must now be disposed of in the garbage.
  • Ensure that all material placed in your garbage is bagged, specifically cleaning products such as wipes, tissues/napkins and other sanitary/hygiene products.
  • Place all used gloves, masks and other protective equipment in the garbage – they are not recyclable.
  • Waste Disposal Site (Landfill)

    • To ensure social distancing, the Town’s Waste Disposal Site will be closed to the general public until further notice.
    • The Waste Disposal Site is also closed to Yard Waste drop off. Residents are asked to store yard waste on their property until the site reopens.
  • Property Tax & Utility Payments
      • Penalty/Interest for April, May and June 2020 is waived on tax and utility accounts
      • Property tax and utility payments can be paid online or by phone through your financial institution; by regular mail; or by the drop box at Town Hall (east doors) [credit cards not accepted]
      • The tax monthly pre-authorized payment plan (PAP) will be processed as usual unless written instructions to suspend the payment are received three (3) days prior to the 1st of the month. 
      • For the tax due date PAP, the May 27th tax instalment due date withdrawal will be moved to the new tax due date of June 30th
      • Tax post-dated cheques received dated May 27th will be deposited June 30th
      • For utility (water and sewer) account payments, the utility due date pre-authorized payments and post-dated cheques for April and June due dates will be processed as usual

*To change your tax and/or utility PAP or cancel your post-dated cheque, please contact the Finance department or call 519-599-3131 ext. 221

  • Public Transit
  • Public Parks, Trails and Greenspaces
    •  
    • Residents and visitors are asked to adhere to all Public Health recommendations including social distancing.
  • Building Services

    • Building Services will continue to receive digital applications and revisions to issued permits via the submission methods already in place, i.e. ShareFile system or registered Portal Users may submit via the Online Portal page on the Town’s website.
    • Permit applications, inquiries and reviews will continue to occur to the greatest extent possible and comments will be provided via email using build@thebluemountains.ca
    • Zoning inquiries and Zoning and Building Compliance Report processing will continue to occur to the greatest extend possible with our response provided by email.
    • Fees under $2000 may be paid by Visa or MasterCard by phoning in credit card information to 519 599 3131 extension 296 or 239.  For payment in excess of $2000 a cheque may be sent by regular mail, courier or via the Town Hall mail drop box.
  • Building Permit Inspections
    • Building inspections will continue but will not be conducted within occupied buildings.
    • Buildings shall be vacated while inspection are being conducted.
    • A site representative shall be on site and available if needed.
    • To request an inspection, please contact 519-599-3131 ext. 296.
  • Planning & Development Engineering
    • Planning/Zoning inquiries and development preconsultations will continue to occur to the greatest extent possible via alternate means (TCC, etc.). However, the Development Review Committee meeting schedule has been postponed until further notice.
    • At this time, the Town does not have full capability to receive purely digital submissions and fee transfers. 
    • New Planning Act applications can be submitted to the Town by submitting the required applications, reports & materials in hardcopy.  Hardcopy materials can be delivered via mail or courier and will be handled carefully by staff using the proper precautions.  Staff will contact the applicant to facilitate the exchange of digital copies of all materials.
    • Applicants are advised that there will be some delay in the processing of Planning Act applications until public meetings, committee meetings, and Council meeting are rescheduled
    • Deferring the submission of new Planning Act applications will avoid situations where the Town is unable to process new applications within the timeframes outlined in the Planning Act.
    • For existing applications that are already under review, new planning and/or development engineering submissions (i.e. drawings, reports, etc.) will be received via digital file sharing mechanisms. Project consultant staff are encouraged to continue to contact the assigned Town staff to facilitate this review. 
    • Any review fees that are payable to the Town will be received via cheque in the Town Hall mailbox and will be handled carefully by staff using the proper precautions. As much file activity and work will occur as possible in the meantime so that things are prepared to move forward when meetings are rescheduled, and Council can reconvene again to make Planning Act decisions.
  • By-law Enforcement Issues / Complaints
    • Municipal By-law enforcement will continue to operate as normal.
    • By-law enforcement complaints can be submitted through the Town website or by calling 519-599-3131 ext. 249. The phoneline is monitored 24/7.
  • Parking Ticket Payments
    • With the closure of Town Hall, residents and visitors are reminded that parking tickets can be paid by credit card over the phone (519-599-3131 ext. 249) or online by visiting: www.paytickets.ca/start

Message from the Deputy Mayor, Rob Potter

At the March 16, 2020 Special Committee of the Whole meeting, Council waived the procedural By-law to consider the recommendation of the Chief Administrative Officer that outlined a series of temporary public closures of all municipal facilities, until April 17th, 2020.

In addition, the recommendation outlined the cancellation of all Public Meetings, Public Information Centres, Committee of Council and Boards of Council meetings, and Committee of the Whole and Council Meetings until April 17th, 2020.

The full resolution approved by Council can be found here. Link to Council resolution regarding COVID-19.

On behalf of Council, I want to thank our residents, business community and our municipal partners for their commitment and patience through this difficult time. I would like to emphasize that residents and visitors should keep up to date with official information released by the Public Health Unit, Municipal and County Governments, and the Provincial and Federal Governments. This will be difficult time, but we can get through it if we take the prescribed precautions.

Message from the Mayor, Alar Soever

Mayor Alar Soever will be returning to his duties as Mayor effective Monday, March 23, 2020. For full details, please see the following press release.

Notice- Mayor Soever Expected to Return Next Week

Municipal Operations Update from the Chief Administrative Officer, Shawn Everitt

On Friday, March 13, 2020 a meeting of the Municipal Emergency Control Group was organized for Monday, March 16, 2020 to initiate the municipal response to the COVID-19 pandemic in a coordinated and collaborative effort.

With the approval by Council on Monday, March 16, staff implemented the temporary public closure of all municipal facilities. On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, with the Declaration of a Provincial State of Emergency by the Premier of Ontario, the Town’s Senior Management Team implemented an operational plan that promoted alternate working arrangements for Town employees, including the development of rotational staff shifts, and policies following the social distance standards. Through these proactive efforts, the Town Hall Administration building remains operational through phone and email customer service.

In addition, through coordination with the Town Clerk and the Information Technology staff, we are actively working on methods to allow for Town Council to continue to meet through electronic participation pending legislative changes to the Municipal Act that could be considered and implemented by the Provincial Government. As of now, Council is scheduled to meet on Monday, March 30, 2020 at 9:00am. The meeting will be livestreamed to the Town website, however no public attendance at Town Hall will be permitted during the temporary closure of Town Hall.

On behalf of Town staff, I would like to thank our community for their patience during these difficult times. We truly appreciate those champions within our community that have helped to provide positive messaging and support and continue to focus on the priorities of protecting our community, our county, and globally and to promote the recommended social distancing and health practices from the Ministry of Health, along with our Provincial and Federal Governments.

During the facility closures, residents are reminded that a variety of Town services are available online.

Online services include:

To access online services, please visit: www.thebluemountains.ca/online-services.cfm

The Town is working with government agencies, industry partners and local business leaders to be able to effectively identify actions to support businesses in response to the economic impacts of COVID-19. 

The following section contains links to various business resources and financial support information: 

Local Organizations

Preparedness Toolkits

Government Programs and Support

A resource that summarizes the available government economic response initiatives can be found by visiting: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses has launched a Small Business Help Centre to help business owners understand the support programs that are available: https://www.cfib-fcei.ca/en/small-business-resources-dealing-covid-19

Provincial Programs

Details regarding Provincial program are available by visiting: https://www.ontario.ca/page/stopping-spread-covid-19

Federal Programs

Details regarding Federal programs are available by visiting: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan/covid19-businesses.html


Contacts

Shawn Everitt
Chief Administrative Officer
519-599-3131 x234

Tim Hendry
Manager of Communications & Economic Development
519-599-3131 x282