By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
HALDIMAND—Chief Administrative Officer Craig Manley briefed Council on the planning measures being taken by staff as Haldimand enters Stage 2 of the Province’s reopening process during last week’s Council session.
“Staff have been working in the background and we are in the process now of implementing measures to restart a number of municipal services that we had on hiatus,” said Manley during his report.
First on the list, Manley announced that June 29 is the targeted date for the opening of the County’s administration building: “We’re currently in the process of putting in the necessary social distancing measures to open up to the public safely.”
Certain services such as marriage licences, permits, and planning services will be offered on an appointment basis. Full details regarding the re-introduction of municipal services, as well as visitor requirements (e.g. self-screening and physical distancing protocols), will be announced shortly.
Additionally, Council plan on having their first in-person session at the administrative building on June 30.
With the announcement that restaurants can open outdoor patio areas, in addition to take out and delivery options, staff have been finalizing an expedited approval and permitting process that allows restaurant owners to set up temporary outdoor patios.
On the issue of summer camps, Manley said, “Although the Province has allowed summer camps to be implemented, (we looked) at the provincial safety requirements … (and) we simply don’t know how we could offer that service safely. There’s a significant number of things that have to be in place and at this stage of the game, we’re not planning on opening summer camps, which is consistent with what other municipalities have done. We’re looking at virtual programming as an alternative.”
On the issue of outdoor recreational services, he added, “We are working with our facilities group to open our pools, and we’re investigating whether or not we can open our splash pads safely.”
He elaborated that the County is confident they can open the pools safely with reduced attendance to allow for social distancing and protective measures in place. He was less confident about splash pads opening for the season.
“To be honest and frank, we have some serious reservations about splash pads because they’re not a staffed function. It is difficult to control the number of people using them, they tend to generate a lot of people, and it seems misaligned to allow that when you can’t use play equipment.”
He mentioned that local residents may see the splash pads turned on in the coming weeks, but that would be for maintenance work only, and not public use.
On the issue of public libraries and the Haldimand County Museum in Cayuga, the plan is to be open by early July, with County staff looking at safety parameters to do so safely in the coming week.
On the Port Maitland pier, which has been closed to the public, Manley stated, “The Medical Officer of Health has indicated that he will be lifting his order…. We recognize there are some things that have to happen like installing porta-potties, making sure we have a strong enforcement presence, and things like that. We are aware of the issues that happen there, we’re aware that there is a desire to look at alternatives.”
Still affected by the Provincial limit on gatherings to 10 or less, facilities such as arenas and community halls “will remain status quo”. However, the County is establishing parameters for the eventual reopening of these facilities when it is safe to do so.
Although the County is committed to following provincial guidelines, the reopening strategy is contingent upon numbers of new cases of COVID-19 remaining steady or in decline and is subject to change.