KEMPTVILLE — Does it make sense for local municipalities to declare a local state of emergency if the province has already done so Ontario-wide? The answer for North Grenville is yes, as Mayor Nancy Peckford declared the municipal state of emergency yesterday evening.
The declaration is “not an indication that the crisis has escalated in our community,” the municipality carefully notes in a press release. “It means that, as a municipality, our priority is to be proactive and prepared.”
The decision follows the same move by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson yesterday and is “unanimously supported” by North Grenville council and its Emergency Control Group.
“By declaring an emergency, we are imploring citizens in North Grenville to take responsibility for their everyday actions by staying at home and practicing social distancing at every opportunity to help us stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Peckford.
“COVID-19 knows no boundaries,“ she emphasized. “Given North Grenville’s proximity to the National Capital Region and multiple points of entry from the US border, it is critical that we act as prudently as possible.”
The mayor added that the “time is now to ensure everyone is doing their part to support our emergency services and our brave healthcare workers from across the region. The entire municipality and all of our combined resources must be focused on flattening the curve. We must fight COVID-19 together.”
The municipality says the formal declaration does provide it with additional powers and tools to protect the health and safety of local residents, and “streamlines” the decision-making process through the Emergency Control Group to act as quickly as possible when required.
“This declaration aligns with the government of Ontario’s Declaration of Emergency made March 17, 2020, and with declarations being made by other municipalities across the province.”
According to North Grenville Media Relations Officer Jill Sturdy, the extra local powers include:
- the possibility of closing municipal parks (if it became necessary to protect public safety);
- expedited purchasing of protective gear or other equipment for our emergency personnel;
- trespassing enforcement on public lands (if social distancing rules weren’t being respected), and
- whatever else the municipality needs to support the stop of COVID-19.