NORTH PERTH – Access to COVID-19 vaccinations is officially going to get better in North Perth in June.
During its May 10 meeting, council gave the official go-ahead to offer the Steve Kerr Memorial Complex June through July and the Elma Logan Recreation Complex from August through November for bi-weekly COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Two clinics were previously conducted in North Perth, but Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) has advised it requires a larger facility than the Wallace Community Centre or Elma Memorial Community Centre.
HPPH is starting rotating clinics in North Perth on June 2 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The ice surface in the arenas will support the vaccination of up to 650 people per day. It was pointed out in the report to council that the Elma Logan Recreation Complex will also benefit residents from West Perth and surrounding areas to have closer access to a vaccination clinic.
Coun. Matt Richardson asked whether North Perth could increase the number of clinics.
“Is one a week enough because we have a significant population,” he asked.
CAO Kriss Snell said North Perth has been advocating for mass vaccination clinics to be located outside Stratford and Goderich and the health unit has responded by making plans to implement rotating clinics.
“Two things that limit the availability for clinics,” he said. “The availability of vaccine and the resources of HPPH. The June schedule is, at this point, the commitment made by Public Health. There actually is no commitment yet made for July and onwards at this time. We are hopeful and will be encouraging them to continue this rotation.”
Snell said North Perth is in the rotation an extra time due to its population and awareness by HPPH of difficulties residents in the northern part of both counties have accessing vaccinations.
Coun. Julie Behrns suggested that instead of using both arenas, the clinic only be set up at Elma Logan Community Centre.
Coun. Allan Rothwell asked why community centres were not considered to avoid impacting ice users.
“The indication from HPPH is that Elma Memorial Community Centre is not large enough,” said Snell. “They are looking for space as large as an ice surface.”
“My only concern is there are many communities throughout this great country of ours that has a clinic in smaller locations so I’m just trying to understand why we couldn’t utilize one of our under-utilized facilities,” said Rothwell.
Mayor Todd Kasenberg said that Clerk Pat Berfelz indicated that HPPH wanted to accomplish a lot in a single day because they have needs across two large counties and the resourcing of larger clinics requires more floor space than a community centre can offer.
Coun. Lee Anne Andriessen shared comments expressing disappointment about the level of service North Perth is receiving from HPPH.
She raised a complaint that two clinics in 25 days were not enough, stating that North Perth is the third largest community in the region behind Stratford and Goderich.
“We are in a farming community,” said Andriessen. “They are very, very busy on the farms right now and time is of the essence. Driving to Stratford and Goderich will take half a day to do this and I know it’s important but it could mean that this could stand in the way of people being vaccinated. I also feel that vaccinations are absolutely critical for our communities to reopen from an economic standpoint and I feel that our businesses deserve this too so that our community has the opportunity to reopen with more confidence having our residents have more access to vaccinations.”
Snell said he understands Andriessen’s concerns and the municipality has offered to help HPPH in any way possible with clinics, but he repeated that the main reasons there can’t be more clinics at this point are vaccine supply and availability of HPPH resources.
“I do believe Public Health is trying their best to get the vaccine out to the community as best they can… it’s a massive area that Public Health is covering,” he said. “Stratford and Goderich may not be central to everyone but they are trying their best to make sure the broad range of Huron-Perth is covered as best they can.”
After discussion surrounding the wording to the resolution which would leave the municipality in the best position to recoup lost rental revenue if the province offers COVID-19 emergency funds in the future, all councillors agreed to offer the Steve Kerr Memorial Complex June through July and the Elma Logan Recreation Complex from August through November for bi-weekly COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner