City Hall is closed, and city council is on hold as Guelph self-isolates in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Although there’s still yet to be a confirmed outbreak in the Royal City, elected officials and City staff are doing everything they can to protect Guelph from feeling the worse effects of the global pandemic. So how’s it going? Mayor Cam Guthrie recently offered some insights on CFRU.
“I think one of the big issues is that we’re in a chain of command where we’re always reacting to the decisions of both the Federal and the Provincial government,” Guthrie told Open Sources Guelph co-host Scotty Hertz on the emergency COVID-19 show Wednesday evening. “As much as we’re trying to put things in place on our end on a daily basis, it can sometimes seem like it’s just minutes later when things are changed because of what the Province and the Federal government is announcing.”
Guthrie explained that the Government of Ontario is doing the best it can to keep municipalities up-to-date and talk to them directly, but there are 444 municipalities in Ontario, and that’s a whole lot of co-ordination.
“There was a scheduled teleconference call [Tuesday] between all the heads of council across the province with ministers, and also the medical officer for Ontario,” Guthrie explained. “We had that meeting to get an update from them as to what they’re doing, and then there was some time allotted where we were able to ask questions. I didn’t get a chance to ask a question, even though I was in line, because a bunch of other mayors got ahead of me.”
The mayor also talked about the cancellation of the last two city council meetings for March, which was taken out of an abundance of caution, but it was also taken because three member of city council are presently self-isolating. According to Guthrie, any further decisions about cancelled meetings will be made later, but there may be new options.
“On that phone call we had yesterday with the ministers, they did indicate that they were going to be tabling some legislation to allow municipal councils to do city business and communicate over teleconference,” Guthrie. “I’m just waiting for that legislation to come forward so I can understand what the impact would be for us.”
You can listen to the full interview yourself, as well as an interview with Guelph Mercury Tribune report Graeme McNaughton, by downloading it on your favourite podcast app at iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and Spotify.