Gray will consider joining municipalities ending state of emergency

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Neighboring municipalities such as the City of Shelburne and the County of Wellington have ended their “state of emergency”.

“This is by no means a signal that our collective efforts against COVID-19 are over, but it does highlight the fact that we are moving beyond the emergency phase of these efforts,” the mayor said. of Shelburne, Wade Mills.

The Herald/Advance has reached out to Gray County Reeve Buck (Selwyn) Hicks as well as the mayors of Southgate and Gray Highlands for their thoughts.

GRAY COUNTY

Arden Hicks confirmed that the Gray County Emergency Declaration, Gray County’s emergency oversight group, will consider when to end the emergency at its meeting this week.

“As director, I would like to get feedback from the group before making the decision to declare this emergency over,” he said.

Key to him will be the input from members of this group, including MOH Dr Ian Arra.

But Reeve Hicks said members will also take into account the direction of the province, member municipalities and other counties.

SOUTHGATE & GRAY HIGHLANDS

Mayor John Woodbury said the state of emergency was constant in all municipalities in Gray County. “I think we’ll end reporting around the same time,” he said.

The prefect, mayors, chief executives and public health have met regularly since the adoption of the emergency declarations, he noted.

“The public and Council will see very little difference when this is revoked,” Mayor Woodbury continued.

“The (Southgate) board have been making decisions from the start, except for very few points,” he said.

Gray Highlands Mayor Paul McQueen said he expected the rules for the municipal state of emergency to be overhauled “because you never thought an emergency would last this long”.

He would like to see changes that include more feedback and communication with the board.

Decisions made from the control group (MECG) come from an unelected group, except for the mayor, he observed.

“From a public perspective, there has been frustration with (the) decisions made, or how the decisions made are not in a public forum,” he wrote in an email response. at the Herald/Advance.

A NEW TYPE OF “EMERGENCY”

Warden Hicks provided some thoughts on the use of ‘state of emergency’, which has most often been used for traditional emergencies like fires and floods. In addition to changes of powers, a declared emergency also allows a municipality to access resources from elsewhere, such as relief funding.

“In the event of this pandemic, our statement has been put in place to help Public Health and the Ontario Health Table convey the seriousness of the situation,” he said.

“It has also allowed us to better bring together key partners around municipal services on a regular basis to ensure that operations run smoothly.

So far, the Emergency Control Group hasn’t felt it would send “the right message” to suppress the statement, Director Hicks said.

EFFECTS OF THE EMERGENCY

The declaration gives the head of the commune the power to issue any orders not “contrary to the law” to carry out his emergency plans.

These powers are set out in the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

After the end of the state of emergency, this decision-making returns to a normal state.

In some ways, Director Hicks said the emergency has put decision-making in front of more eyes than before, with the widespread ability to listen to advice over the phone or watch it online.

People could also make delegations without going to Owen Sound.

Mayor Woodbury also noted that the pivot to online meetings is keeping the council process accessible.

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