In late March of 2020 as Covid-19 was gaining momentum, the township of Bonfield declared a local state of emergency. Two years later, Mayor Randy McLaren is considering retracting the measure.
On Wednesday, March 30, Mayor McLaren met with Bonfield’s Emergency Control Group to discuss the option, and will discuss the topic further at the next meeting on April 15.
“There are still 87 municipalities under a state of emergency,” McLaren said, “and 74 First Nations, so there is still a sizeable number” under emergency measures.
However, as the government lessens restrictions, “it’s probably time for us to consider also removing ours,” he said, adding that residents are allowed to enter the municipal office’s lobby, and “we’re working on bringing back in-person council meetings again in the near future.”
“It’s not really impacting anything right now in a negative way,” McLaren said of the emergency measure, and he remains “cognizant that we may be heading into a sixth wave” of Covid.
Therefore, the decision to remove the state of emergency will not be taken lightly, McLaren noted. “Who knows where this could go, but hopefully it’s all positive.”
Over these past years “we’ve been able to conduct most of our business as usual,” while operating under the state of emergency, McLaren said.
McLaren and the Emergency Control Group will look at case numbers from the province and any other relevant data relating to the current state of Covid before making their final decision.
If they do decide to remove the state of emergency, the township will have to prepare a detailed chronology of each measure it took while operating under the measure. For example, if a municipal building was shut down, that would be included, as would the locking of a door on the rink’s changeroom.
Each detail must be accounted for, McLaren explained, “and you need to have documentation describing the chronology of it all—there’s a lot of provincial oversight” when a municipality declares a state of emergency.
McLaren anticipates removing the measure, but remains cautious, hopeful “that this sixth wave isn’t as bad as the others.”
“The last thing you want to do two years into something like this is to have to reimpose it” if things take a turn for the worse. If they do not, Bonfield’s state of emergency will most likely be lifted on or near April 15.
“We want to make sure that this virus is really out before we put it away.”
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.