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Bonnyville town council to address tax, utility deferrals, additional measures this week

The Town of Bonnyville will look to address tax and utility deferrals this week while contemplating additional measures to combat COVID-19.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Mayor Gene Sobolewski and the Director of Emergency Management Jay Melvin responded to questions about the status of personal protective equipment for health care workers, playgrounds, and economic strain.

Council will have a conference call on Tuesday and likely hold a special council meeting Thursday to pass these measures.

In the midst of the financial stresses, the Town is still without 2019’s ID349 funds and do not know what money they’ll receive for this year.

Roughly $6 million from ID 349 has already been allotted to the regional waterline.

There is no state of emergency in Bonnyville.

“When you declare a state of emergency, you’re declaring it for a certain reason, you want to enforce some sort of powers that comes with that under the legislation,” said Melvin, Director of Emergency Management.

“The province has declared a state of public emergency under the Health Act. And right now that meets the needs of this municipality.”

Melvin said they want people to continue physical distancing and staying home if they feel sick.

“A lot of the issues that we’re facing right now are things that we’ve never experienced before or even thought of, and that’s creating some challenges for sure,”

“Education is the driving force behind any type of enforcement. We want to educate first. I think it’s important that we get the message out to the local area.”

Melvin said there has been no indication from local grocery stores that they are running out of supplies and he encouraged people to not hoard.

“In the meantime and between time everybody, I encourage you to stay safe,” said Mayor Gene Sobolewski.

“We’re just going to try and work this out as best as we can and ride this thing out and hopefully we’ll all come out on the other end, healthy and safe.”

Town of Bonnyville COVID-19 response full video

Town of Bonnyville COVID-19 response.Mayor of Bonnyville Gene Sobolewski and the Director of Emergency Management for the Bonnyville area Jay Melvin.

Posted by Lakeland Connect on Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Medical supplies

Melvin indicated that supplies of personal protective equipment are not a high risk of running out at this time and communicate with the Bonnyville Health Centre and EMS staff regularly to see what PPE they have.

“Right now, we’re into that 30 days supply, which is fantastic. We’ve also checked in with some other people in the community on their PPE requirements and, and right now everybody’s coping with what is in front of us today,” said Melvin.

“But that could change tomorrow or the next day…At present, there doesn’t seem to be a real high risk of running out of local PPE supplies within what we know.”

No information will be released about Bonnyville cases

Melvin said they have not been told the details about the four cases of COVID-19 in the Bonnyville area and that information of whether they are travel-related or community transmission, and if hospitalizations have been required, will not be made public.

“Right now, all we’ve been told is that all measures are taken in the event people are confirmed positive and they’re following all the rules set by Alberta Health Services on their health. So we did ask last week and right now, that information as far as we’ve been told, won’t be released to the public,” said Melvin.

Sobolewski said the Town provides the information they get on the town website Facebook page and typically get as much data from chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s daily update.

Playgrounds to close?

Bonnyville closing playgrounds at parks could be on the agenda for an upcoming council meeting, following in line with other municipalities like St. Paul who have taken that measure.

“The issue is up front and center because there have been some other municipalities around that have taken the liberties to close down their parks. The information that was put to us at the time was that some outdoor activities are suggested and things like that, but we haven’t been advised to actually close them,” said Sobolewski.

“That may be one of the issues that we talked about tonight and Thursday with council.”

Economic future

The Town was involved with a conference with Premier Jason Kenney and Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu on the weekend to discuss how municipalities can help people financially during this time.

Sobolewski said they’ll set some of the economic measures at the next council meeting.

“The Town of Bonnyville is scrambling to make things happen and to make sure that we’re legal, that we can do what we need to do, and most importantly, to try and keep our local economy as vibrant as possible,” he said.

“They’re also [the province] looking at the possibility of putting together infrastructure grants so that we can get people back to work.

“We’re looking at the possibility of making sure that it’s local people, so local equipment, local supply and local labour, that take the precedent in terms of getting people back to work and infrastructure projects. And right now we’re working with the province.”

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