Steve Pinnsonneault 2020-2021

·2 min read

East Kent councillor Steve Pinnsonneault says 2020 has been tough for everyone in Chatham-Kent.

While COVID-19 has impacted every sector, the veteran politician says it’s been very difficult for small businesses to continue to operate.

It could spell the end for some, he adds.

With a second lockdown now in place, Pinnsonneault fears many may not re-open when it’s over.

“The pandemic has made it tough to get business done,” the small business owner explains, adding, “there is always the uncertainty of the next shut down.”

Pinnsonneault hopes Chatham-Kent can continue to hold the line on what it has — preserving and maintaining whatever it can.

“Right now I would just like to let this (COVID-19) run its course and not make any decisions to cut programs or close facilities until we have a chance to see what the new normal is going to be,” he says.

Governing throughout the pandemic has created its own set of obstacles, Pinnsonneault notes. He says meeting virtually doesn’t carry the same punch as face-to-face meetings.

Personally, he’d like to see council start meeting in person again at a COVID-19 “safe location” like the Bradley Centre, where social distancing can be maintained.

“I believe meetings are more productive in person,” Pinnsonneault explains, “but I know that won't happen any time soon with another province lock now underway.”

He says 2020 has been “one of those years that Chatham-Kent council and administration have just tried to keep the wheels on the wagon.”

Pinnsonneault explains it’s been a struggle to keep the municipality’s amenities operating in the small communities — such as the Bothwell Arena — adding he’s “fought to keep them open for business.

“COVID has skewed the numbers and it raises a lot of eyebrows as to their viability,” he says. “Unfortunately this has worked to increase the rural/urban divide and that is the last thing we want after the good work we’ve had closing the gap over the past several years.”

Pinnsonneault says the trying to come up with a new budget that’s fair to all taxpayers will be difficult, considering the drop in municipal funding from the casino and arena rentals.

“I think there is going to be some serious hurdles this coming year in the budget and finance departments,” he adds, “as the pandemic will leave us with shortfalls.

He’s not sure things will ever return to “business as usual” once the pandemic is over, adding we may see more employees permanently working from home and some services not continuing at all.

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Herald