I hope you and yours are staying safe, healthy and taking care of your physical and mental health as best you can in these concerning times. None of us are immune from worry be it health-related, financial or just a general concern for the state of things at this time.
As of this writing we have had 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Brantford-Brant region with 85 of those resolved, 12 active cases, and sadly 3 deaths. (Source: https://www.bchu.org/coronavirus)
In Haldimand-Norfolk they report 196 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 58 of those resolved, 108 active cases and tragically 30 deaths. (Source: https://hnhu.org/health-topic/coronavirus-covid-19/)
This disease can effect small urban and rural municipalities and while the focus is often on the big cities in the country it is important to keep in mind communities like ours.
For my blog this month I would like to share some of the excellent reports from the County of Brant Chief Administrative Officer Michael Bradley who is doing an incredible job along with his team of municipal staff during a time of much upheaval and complexity.
These reports have been shared with comments from Michael and questions from council at our April and May council meetings which have been chaired by Mayor Bailey via teleconfernce and are available for the public to hear at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjS7JuSU52U&list=PL_e_qdJjoMr8sNXTALDMnb133sNY4RmsW
May Report and supplemental information: http://brant.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/cache/2/1zc0qxm1yi2tiabz3nr2l0kw/16399805062020012042863.PDF
2020 Financial Information: http://brant.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/cache/2/1zc0qxm1yi2tiabz3nr2l0kw/1639990506202001204499.PDF
Status of Strategic Plan Initiatives and Special Projects: http://brant.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/cache/2/1zc0qxm1yi2tiabz3nr2l0kw/1640000506202001204755.PDF
Some notes from the reports:
- We are continuing to not charge interest or penalties on a number of things such as tax payments etc as a form of economic relief. Staff will be presenting other options for residents who are unable to pay taxes and other regular fees such as water and wastewater fees in an upcoming council meeting.
- We have reduced our paid staffing numbers by approximately 35% to deal with the economic realities of the pandemic – most of these are part-time, contract or seasonal employees.
- Many employees are transitioning into different roles or focuses in their work to combat the health, safety and fiscal realities of COVID-19.
- By-law has seen an increase in call volumes by over 200% since last year and we have moved a number of staff to that department to try and address these calls from residents.
- County Paramedics which serve both the County and the City have been assisting in the state-of-emergency by also helping to operate screening and mass testing at long-term care and retirement homes in addition to their regular duties.
- We are currently forecasting over 1 million dollars deficit this year due to COVID-19 related impacts but unlike some other municipalities you may be reading about in the press worried about bankruptcy we are well situated to work through this with reserve funds and other steps we are taking to mitigate damage. However, this is a moving target which is likely to continue to change over time.
- For the most up-to-date information please visit https://www.brant.ca/covid-19 regularly
A highlight of some of the activities I’ve attended in pre and post pandemic from March-May:
- Special Council Meeting re: Appointment of Chief Building Official
- Pinehurst Lake Family Venture Day
- Long Form Interview on Brant.One on County of Brant planning processes.
- Brantford-Brant Chamber of Commerce Electronic Drop in
- Official Plan Sounding Board Session
- Community Safety and Well Being Plan Board Meeting
- County of Brant Library Orientation
- County of Brant Paper Bag Princess Celebration
- Interview with Brant.One regarding public health best practices
- Call with local farm group around agri-tourism opportunities in the County
- Interview with Brant.One regarding mental health in isolation
- Interview with ChamberCast – a locally focused podcast from the Brantford-Brant Chamber of Commerce hosted by Ward 2 resident Avery Moore Kloss
- Nationally Broadcast Interview on Newstalk 1010 and The iHeartRadio Network on County of Brant response to Covid-19
- Visit to County of Brant Paramedics to check in and to help with a PPE drive for their first responder service
- Library Board teleconference x 2
- Sojurn Church/ Paris Presbyterian Church Podcast Interview on “The New Normal”
- Special County of Brant Council Electronic Meeting
- Zoom meeting with local Girl Guide’s to discuss government and financial systems
- Electronic Meetings With Big Brothers Big Sisters of Grand Erie x 2
- Electronic Meetings with Equal Ground Community Gardens to discuss backyard garden program partnerships x 2
- In vehicle tour of Browndale Farm
- Longform Interview with Rogers Television to discuss government responses to pandemic and how council operates in an emergency setting.
- Electronic Meeting with Homeward Bound program participants via Social Services to discuss government, relief options and planning.
- Special County of Brant Council Meeting Teleconference
- Numerous calls with residents regarding financial relief, legal aid, by-law complaints etc.
- Virtual Day of Mourning Ceremony
- Ontario Chamber of Commerce Townhall
- Harvard Kennedy School live event regarding creating public value in response to Covid-19