CAO presents service level reopening plan to Strategic Priorities Committee

·3 min read

By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There was a lot to talk about at last Tuesday's Strategic Priorities Committee. The full docket included a discussion led by Chief Administrative Officer Brent Kittmer regarding the service level reopenings following Huron Perth's move into the Orange - Restrict level of Ontario's reopening framework.

Kittmer said that the move to the Orange - Restrict level places St. Marys about where it was at the holidays last year, which Kittmer admitted felt to him like a fast jump from being in a lockdown to being at a stage where services could be almost completely open. Because of the move, he is aware that there will be some expectation from some members of the community that the Town is automatically going to begin operating its service levels as much and as freely as possible. However, this is not what would be in the best interest of the Town, according to the CAO.

Town staff believes a slow and cautious reopening is prudent. Kittmer went through their proposal for various service level reopenings for the Council members' consideration. Municipal offices would remain open for drop-ins with doors locked and a doorbell for service. However, virtual services are available and preferred when possible. The Yard Waste Depot is open, as is the Landfill, however, the latter is not accepting cash. The Station Gallery/VIA Rail Station is open with gathering restrictions in place.

The plan for the St. Marys Public Library would be to reopen in-person service with gathering limits in place and encouraging virtual service use when possible. There would also be gathering limits and time limits for public computer use. The plan from Town staff also mentioned the Museum, which would continue with virtual and telecommunications programming until March 1st, when it would open three days per week from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for research only and with gathering limits in place. The proposal lists late April as a target to resume exhibits at the Museum.

Speaking on the Pyramid Recreation Center, which drew the majority of the focus, Kittmer began with the pool. There is some delay in opening the pool given the recency of the reopening announcement and the need to recall staff. The plan would see the pool open on March 8th with registrations starting before that and done on a week-to-week basis. The capacity for the pool would be capped at 25 percent, meaning lane swims would be capped at four people, Aquafit classes capped at 10, and public swim capped at 20. Swimming lessons would also not be brought back yet due to an inability to take proper safety protocols. Moving to the ice pads, the ice remains uninstalled and ice users will have until February 26th to express interest in Spring ice in April and May. This will require a future discussion with Council as ice users come back with their requests. Lastly, for the Friendship Center, Wellness Programs and Services will continue, virtual programs and phone services will continue, a drive-thru Easter Lunch would be held at the end of March, and a target of early April to resume in-person programs with outdoor classes. Youth Center programming would also continue virtually.

Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent