This morning Bonfield’s mayor Randall McLaren notified MP Anthony Rota that he is lifting Bonfield’s state of emergency, which was declared in late March of 2020, when Covid-19 was entering its first wave.
As of this morning at 9 a.m. the state of emergency is over. “It had come time for that to reach its end,” Mayor McLaren said. “It served it’s purpose.”
See: Bonfield declares state of emergency
The decision was made yesterday morning, the mayor explained, during a meeting of Bonfield’s Emergency Control Group, who “came to the consensus that it was time to wrap it up.” The group was considering lifting the state of emergency at the end of April, but the sixth wave was looming, and the group wanted to “see where it would go,” so the status quo remained.
Enacting and abolishing the emergency states were decisions not made lightly, the mayor explained, adding that declaring these states is “one of the primary roles as the head of council,” who must make “those heavy decisions under emergency situations.”
See: Bonfield considers lifting state of emergency
He acknowledged that this emergency was much different than a forest fire or a flood sweeping through town, but the pandemic held great risk, particularly in the beginning, mostly because there seemed to be so much unknown about what people could expect from it. McLaren mentioned that as of yesterday, “there are still 54 municipalities” operating under states of emergencies brought on by Covid.
North Bay was never one of these municipalities, opting to not declare a state of emergency with the province. Asked if he was surprised by North Bay’s decision, the mayor made clear that “everyone had their own reasons” for declaring a state of emergency. Speaking of North Bay, the mayor continued, “I think they felt, and far be it for me to speak to why they did or didn’t, but nobody knew at the time in March of 2020—when we declared—where this was going to go. If it had of turned into a nastier event, I’m certain they would have.”
“They took a wait and see approach, and as is turned out, the event never came where it was necessary for them to declare a state of emergency.”
The state of emergency allowed McLaren and the township “more nimble decision making,” the mayor said. For example, if the Emergency Control Group felt it best to close the public rink, they could do so without a vote from council. They would be required to explain their decision, but it did speed up the process.
“In any emergency there is always accountability,” the mayor emphasized. For example, every decision made throughout the state of emergency has been documented and will be sent to the province to file with all the information gathered from other municipalities.
Is the mayor relieved this chapter of emergency is behind him? “I think everybody across the country feels that way,” he said, noting that Covid is “still nothing to take for granted, but I think we’re on a better path now as a nation.”
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca