Brockton mayor discusses provincial measures to curb COVID-19, municipal budget

·2 min read

BROCKTON – Mayor Chris Peabody, along with his counterparts in other area municipalities, has been waiting to learn what increased measures the province is imposing to curb the spread of COVID-19.

He was relieved to hear the premier announce at the beginning of the week that a curfew similar to Quebec’s was not on the table.

Peabody noted that in this area, numbers have started to stabilize after a spike resulting from Christmas gatherings.

“In 16 days, we went from green to orange,” he said, referring to the numbers that dictate the province’s colour designation. He said he’ll be interested in seeing what colour Grey-Bruce is when the lockdown ends.

One area of concern is parents who are struggling with online schooling. There are worries that the delay in the return to in-person schooling may well continue past Jan. 25 if the numbers don’t come down.

Another area of concern is the impact of COVID-19 on our hospitals. Peabody said some people have questioned the possibility of the five area hospitals – the four South Bruce Grey Health Centre hospitals and Hanover and District Hospital – accepting patients transferred from outside the area. The mayor said that probably will happen, and it’s how the system is designed to work.

The patients would be accommodated within the five hospitals. “They do have the space,” Peabody said. “It’s the correct move to create flexibility within the system … so it doesn’t break.”

The other key issue on the mayor’s agenda is the municipal budget. Peabody said that thanks to staff doing a great job deferring some projects and maintaining control over expenses, Brockton is in good financial shape as budget deliberations begin. “We’re starting at a 3.5 per cent budget increase,” he said.

The main driver for the increase is the Ontario Provincial Police contract, which has increased substantially. “This kind of increase is not sustainable,” said the mayor, adding that if it continues, Brockton will be looking at options – contracting policing from Hanover or Saugeen Shores.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times