Armour first municipality to publicly back health unit

·4 min read

Armour Township council is officially supporting the decision by the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit to keep COVID-19 restrictions in place.

Coun. Rod Ward says council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the health unit, adding its actions are “effective in controlling the spread of the virus.”

The resolution was introduced at Armour council's last meeting after medical officer of health Dr. Jim Chirico spoke with area elected officials on Jan. 28 explaining his rationale for measures such as shutting down snowmobile trails, tobogganing hills and skating rinks.

“He's making decisions based on information he's getting, signs he's seeing in other areas, and he's going to make a rational choice,” Ward says.

“I have to assume he's got a lot more information than (we) do, plus whatever is going on behind the scenes. I'm sure he doesn't take these decisions lightly.”

After the January information session, Ward says he noted how much heat Chirico was taking on social media.

“I think the people who are lashing out don't really understand fully what's going on,” he said.

“They're being self-focused and not looking at the greater good. That's where the idea of our resolution came from. We have to support our public health folks and not get in the way of them doing their job.”

Ward says Chirico's decisions, like shutting down the snowmobile trails, make sense.

The issue, he says, isn't people actually on the trails since they are covered from head to toe, but them congregating in various places before or after their rides.

Compounding the matter would be snowmobilers coming from other health unit jurisdictions.

Ward says he understands people are tired of the lockdown and the negative effects it's having on their lives and business.

“I'm sure Dr. Chirico and his staff certainly feel the pressure and understand where people are coming from,” Ward says.

“All they're asking is we allow them to do their job. They're making tough decisions that aren't popular.

“It's easy to make a decision everyone agrees with because everyone pats you on the back. But to make those tough decisions, those are the ones you lose sleep over. And I'm sure Dr. Chirico lies awake at night because he knows what the backlash is going to be.

“We have to recognize the really tough decisions are in the best interest of the public over the long term.”

Ward says health unit staff already have “a lot on their plate and people shouldn't be adding to the problem” by heaping on unwarranted abuse.

“Let's try to help and be part of the solution,” he says.

Ward uses the analogy of being stuck on a highway two kilometres behind a motor-vehicle collision as an example of what's happening on social media.

“So you're not moving for a while and people become frustrated because they're late for work or an appointment,” he says.

“But at the accident scene, the people there are doing the best they can to resolve the situation. And for some people at that scene, their lives have changed permanently. So when you're finally driving by and you scream at the people cleaning up the area because you were delayed, that doesn't help.

“To me this is what it's like right now with the comments on social media. It's demoralizing and doesn't help the situation.

“At some point, we'll get through it. If we hold on, things should improve by the middle of this year.”

Ward acknowledges there are some businesses that may not survive the pandemic.

His advice in this scenario is “people have to come together as a community to help others pull through and hope people don't fall through the cracks.”

Ward is a businessman, but admits the virus hasn't affected him because he's an IT consultant who has worked from home for 10 years.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works for the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget