COVID-19 state of emergency declared over in South River

·3 min read

After being in effect for much of 2020 and well into 2021, the state of emergency for the Village of South River has ended.

Mayor Jim Coleman declared an end to the emergency but says on the municipal website that “COVID-19 is still a real health threat and we need to continue to follow all the protocols as outlined by the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit and the province of Ontario.”

In a phone interview with The Nugget, clerk-administrator Don McArthur said the Emergency Control Group that oversaw the state of emergency “had done everything that needed to be done, and it appeared there was little else to happen with COVID-19 that hadn't already occurred.”

“We've been through a few waves (including the delta variant) and we understand the safety measures that need to be taken, and they all still need to be taken,” McArthur said.

“But at this point in time, it seems unlikely that we would be surprised by (future) events. It was highly unlikely that things would happen at a quick speed that would still require the Emergency Control Group. We'd been through enough and it was felt that those responsibilities the control group had could revert back to council.”

McArthur says the Emergency Control Group did its job well, but now “it was time to move back to normal operations.”

In describing the type of powers the control group had, McArthur said they were not greater than those of council but simply different.

“The control group's powers were extraordinary but they only related to emergencies,” he said.

“For example, early on we didn't know how quickly we would have to close the arena, or how quickly a facility would need something, or what, if it was required, to do food deliveries to people. The Emergency Control Group had powers on how to respond to these events. And as it turned out, very few of these powers needed to be carried out.”

The individuals who make up the Emergency Control Group are the mayor, who also is the group's chair, McArthur who acts as the Community Emergency Management Coordinator (CEMC), the fire chief who also is fully qualified to be a CEMC, the chief public works operator and a secretary.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the control group met every week before switching to monthly meetings as 2020 progressed. McArthur says the group met less frequently beginning this past spring and over the summer.

The group also will not disband. McArthur says it always exists and just moves into a state of limbo until it is needed next.

He says even though the state of emergency has ended, the village is taking the delta variant of the virus seriously and is concerned about it.

For that reason, and as the mayor stated on the municipal website, McArthur says it's important that COVID protocols be followed and maintained so everyone can remain safe.

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

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget

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