Council passes emergency measures in response to pandemic

(Gazette file photo)
SARAH WILLIAMS

STAFF WRITER

 

At a recent Special Meeting, Prince Edward County Council passed several temporary emergency measures to help deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Those measures, which include several by-laws, were deemed necessary given the gravity of the pandemic.

The by-laws that were approved are:

-A by-law amendment permitting electronic participation in open meetings of Council and its advisory committees and boards during emergencies and on matters critical to community welfare.

This by-law aligns with provincial legislation that allows municipal councils to meet quickly when in-person meetings cannot be held. It is expected council will conduct their April 7th meeting in this manner, which they also intend to live stream.

A by-law giving CAO Marcia Wallace the ability to address minor or routine planning matters.

This by-law is noted as being implemented to support local businesses, so that work can continue (even online) and so that delays are not felt due to minor decisions not having council’s attention given the circumstances.

-A by-law delegating certain financial and decision-making authority to the CAO, where necessary.

One example of the above by-law would be flood mitigation costs – things that may require a decision or an expenditure that typically exceeds CAO authority would be able to be addressed quickly. For major expenditures or decisions, staff would still be required to write reports regarding the recommended action to be taken.

An example would be a staff report that recommends the approval of a tender award for a piece of equipment. The item would be approved by Council as part of the 2020 budget, but from a continuity of operations perspective, it makes sense that the CAO could “action out” the purchase of these items without the typical return trip to Council.

This would free up Council agenda time, given that Council meetings will be less frequent for the next while.

For the many in the municipality, along with the county at large, the Coronovirus has altered daily life in previously untold ways. Mayor Steve Ferguson did not mince words when describing the importance of implementing measures to mitigate the effects of this outbreak.

These are unprecedented times, and it’s not business as usual. These measures will allow the municipality to continue operations while responding to this emergency,” said Ferguson. “Furthermore, the authority that Council has delegated to the Chief Administrative Officer will be exercised in ways that are transparent to Council and the public.”