NORTH HURON – The Township of North Huron plans to take a “gradual and phased approach” to restoring services in the community.
The township announced details of their reopening plans in a press release on Friday. Earlier in the week, Premier Doug Ford announced that Huron-Perth would enter phase two of reopening the province from the COVID-19 pandemic on June 12.
North Huron says their decision to reopen certain facilities or resume services will be based on direction from the province and Huron Perth Public Health, a gradual and phased approach, and, when possible, coordination with other area municipalities.
Once outdoor recreational amenities have the proper health and safety measures in place, they will be opened.
Some of these amenities may not open due to limited staffing to complete sanitization requirements set out by the province.
Facilities such as arenas, community centres and the indoor pool in Wingham will be reopened in phases to limit safety risks and to manage staffing and financial impacts.
“There will be a lag between when the province announces an indoor facility may reopen and when the Township will be able to open them,” stated the release. “The necessary health and safety measures need to be put into place and staff will require training to meet new requirements.”
The township also cautioned residents that fees may need to be adjusted due to reduced class sizes and increased frequency and level of cleaning and sanitation that will be required.
North Huron’s municipal office will reopen to the public following renovations that are expected to be completed in July. These renovations, the release states, will allow for physical distancing and will bring the municipal office into compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Meetings with staff members are expected to be held by appointment only or electronically until further notice.
Council and committees of council will continue to meet electronically until the provincial declaration of emergency is lifted. Once in-person meetings resume, physical distancing and sanitization measures will be put in place.
Daycare services will remain closed until proper health and safety measures are in place and staff have been trained on new requirements.
As directed by the province, frontline workers will have priority access.
Access to the daycare facility will be limited to staff and children, and all persons will likely be subject to screening. The daycare facility will also be subject to an increased frequency and level of cleaning and sanitation.
Daycare staff are currently going through the provincial guidelines to ensure all measures are in place before reopening to the public.
North Huron staff have developed terms of reference for a North Huron Economic Development Recovery Team.
If approved by council, this team will be tasked with leading economic development recovery in the township. Council will be reviewing this at their meeting on Monday, June 15.
Staff that were laid off earlier in the year due to the pandemic will be called back as the township transitions from an “essential services” model. This transition, the township says, will be slow and gradual.
Employees will be expected to follow public health guidance and are to avoid contact with people who are sick. Any staff showing signs or symptoms of illness will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Staff members will also complete additional training on the new COVID-19 requirements when they are called back to work.
Also, employees who can work from home will do so on a rotational basis.
“I would like to thank the residents and staff for their patience and understanding as the municipality begins to reopen,” said Reeve Bernie Bailey.
“Recovery from this pandemic will be guided by Provincial Orders and North Huron’s recovery will take time and be gradual. Council and staff continue to work closely with senior levels of government through this pandemic and I am excited by the collaborative approach that has been developed to facilitate North Huron’s economic recovery.”
Added Bailey, “Staff continue to be available by phone or email. Stay safe and be well.”