MNBP Special Council Meeting March 25, 2020 – COVID-19 Update

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MEMBERS PRESENT: Mayor Milt McIver, Deputy Mayor Debbie Myles, Councillor Laurie (Smokey) Golden, Councillor James Mielhausen, Councillor Megan Myles

STAFF PRESENT: Clerk, Mary Lynn Standen, Deputy Clerk, Cathy Addison, Administrative Assistant, Tessa Swanton, Chief Building Official, Wendy Elliott, Fire Chief, Wilf Barnes, Public Works Manager, Troy Cameron, Treasurer, Teresa Shearer 

OTHERS PRESENT: Nil 

DISCLOSURE OF PECUNIARY INTEREST AND GENERAL NATURE THEREOF

Mayor McIver called the meeting to order at 9:01 a.m. and Council members were reminded to disclose any pecuniary interest and the general nature thereof that may arise during the course of the meeting.

APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA

Moved by J. Mielhausen Resolution #17-01-2020 Seconded by M. Myles 

THAT the content of the agenda be approved as presented. 

Carried

ADOPTION OF THE MINUTES

There are no Minutes to adopt for Special Council Meeting No. 20-17, March 25, 2020.

PUBLIC MEETING

There is no Public Meeting for Special Council Meeting No. 20-17, March 25, 2020.

DELEGATION

There is no Delegation for Special Council Meeting No. 20-17, March 25, 2020.

CONSIDERATION OF AGENDA ITEMS

1. Councillor L. Golden Notice of Motion

(“Notice of Motion presented by Councillor Laurie Golden – RE: Requested at March 23, 2020 Council Meeting to be brought forward to March 25, 2020 Special Council Meeting”)

RE: Employment Insurance Benefits 

Councillor Golden informed Council that she has been contacted by members of the public who have been cut off from employment insurance benefits. She also noted that close to one million people have applied for employment insurance in the last week. 

Moved by L. Golden Resolution #17-02-2020 Seconded by D. Myles 

THAT the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula supports any efforts to streamline the extension of Employment Insurance Benefits to those who are currently receiving benefits and will be affected by the delay of the tourism season due to the COVID-19 pandemic;

AND THAT, while we appreciate that there are provisions in the Employment Insurance policies due to COVID-19 and in light of the increased volume of applications to this agency, the Council of the Corporation of the Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula feels it would be prudent to continue benefits to those who would otherwise be at the end of their claim until such time as they are recalled to their employment;

AND THAT this continuity would ensure continued income and lessen anxiety in our community which is heavily dependent on the tourism industry;

AND THAT this Council resolution is expressed to The Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance, The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Alex Ruff, MP-Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, and Bill Walker, MPP-Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.

Carried

2. Clerks Department Report No. C 20-20

RE: COVID-19 Staff Compensation Policy and Continuity of Business Considerations

Considerable discussion ensued. 

Council discussed the pros and cons of a rotational workforce and locking the front door of the office to completely prevent public access to the Municipal Office including the removal of the telephone in the hallway.

Councillor Myles stated that the purchase of laptops for staff is a good investment for the COVID-19 pandemic and future use.

Mrs. Standen informed that the six managers had a meeting yesterday and discussed options for business continuity. She said, that given the work load in the past few weeks, there would be difficulty for most to being away from the office for days at a time. She further stated that she spoke with administrative staff and gathered their input. Mrs. Standen indicated that most staff are dedicated to their work. 

Councillor Golden expressed that she would not feel comfortable asking an employee to report to work at the office if they felt uncomfortable at this time.

Deputy Mayor Myles asked Mrs. Addison if she was aware of how other municipalities are currently operating. Mrs. Addison advised that other lower-tier municipalities are experimenting with work from home rotating schedules and the remaining municipalities are working at their office locations behind doors closed to the public.

In response to an inquiry from Councillor Myles, Mrs. Addison listed the emergency control group members including the Peninsula Family Health Team.

Mrs. Addison explained that fear within the Municipality is growing and it is important that Municipal staff are able to respond effectively and efficiently.

Deputy Mayor Myles stated that there needs to be the ability to work from home and the option of rotating shifts. She said that Council needs to do what they can to protect the safety of staff.

Mrs. Elliott, CBO, commented on the Building Department conducting inspections and noted that inspections are still an essential service as construction is continuing. She also advised that Don Tedford is the Deputy CBO in the event of her absence. 

Councillor Myles recommended that each manager train an alternate in the case that a manager becomes ill.

Council discussed the option of managers working in the office while allowing a rotational work schedule and work from home option for administrative staff.

Moved by M. Myles Resolution #17-03-2020 Seconded by L. Golden

THAT Council approves the closure of the Municipal Office, in its entirety, to the public (including the foyer and the telephone currently accessible/situated in the foyer), the main entrance door to the Municipal Office shall be locked to prevent access to the public and all Municipal staff who do not work within the Municipal Office, all deliveries and mail to be submitted via the outdoor drop box located at the main entrance to the Municipal Office effective Thursday, March 26, 2020;

AND THAT, with the foregoing coming into effective, staff will continue to work in Administration;

AND THAT a rotational work force option will be offered for Administrative Staff (Tax Clerk, Accounts Receivable Clerk, Accounts Payable Clerk, Building/Administrative Assistant, By-law Enforcement Officer, Public Works Administrative Assistant and Building Inspector) at the discretion of, managed and approved by the applicable Departmental Supervisor in consultation with the specific staff member in order to determine if the position’s duties may be carried out as “working from home” or if the staff member’s preference is to continue to work at her work station at the Municipal Office;

AND THAT Administrative Staff shall work in the Municipal Office during regular business hours, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. only; 

AND THAT the rotational work force option will not be available until such time as the necessary equipment is purchased, received and set up by the Municipality, the work plan established and all of the foregoing is discussed and provided to the staff member by his/her Departmental Supervisor.

Carried

Mr. Cameron indicated that the landfill attendant has been noticing that those who are returning from travels are going to the landfill. Mr. Cameron recommended that the landfills continuing operating under winter hours until further notice. Discussion ensued regarding keeping the Lindsay landfill open to account holders only and closing the Eastnor and St. Edmunds landfills until further notice.

In regards to Public Works employees, Mr. Cameron explained that employees can do many tasks individually, such as grading and street sweeping. He suggested that staff alternate work weeks and when they are not working be available on an on-call basis. 

Moved by J. Mielhausen Resolution #17-04-2020 Seconded by L. Golden

THAT Council approves that half (50%) of the Public Works work force work one week in isolation while the other half of the work force (50%) will remain at home with pay; 

AND THAT those Public Works staff members who are at home must be available on an on-call basis while they are off; 

AND THAT this rotational work force plan will be an alternating week schedule commencing Monday, March 30, 2020 for a two-week period.

Carried

Moved by M. Myles Resolution #17-05-2020 Seconded by J. Mielhausen

THAT Council endorses the following effective Monday, March 30, 2020:

All three (3) Municipal Waste Disposal Sites will be closed to the public except the Lindsay Waste Disposal Site which will be open by appointment only to existing account holders on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday each week until further notice. 

Carried

3. Manager of Community Services Report No. CS 20-19

RE: Deferred Start to the Season: Campground and Harbours

Deputy Mayor Myles confirmed that bookings at the campground begin on May 1, 2020. 

Council discussed deferring a decision regarding delaying the opening of the harbours at this time.

Mrs. Addison noted that fuel stations are an essential service and need to remain open.

Councillor Myles suggested that, given the current condition of the campground and the COVID-19 pandemic, no new bookings be taken for the Lion’s Head Campground until further notice. 

Moved by J. Mielhausen Resolution #17-06-2020 Seconded by M. Myles

THAT Council approves delaying the opening of the Lion’s head Beach Campground until June 1, 2020; 

AND THAT Council will reassess the situation if it is deemed necessary to do so;

AND THAT Council endorses that seasonal campers impacted by this delay and choosing to relinquish his/her seasonal campsite for 2020 in the Lion’s Head Beach Campground will be refunded the 2020 fee (as paid to the Municipality) once the recreational unit has been removed from the site;

AND THAT the seasonal camper is responsible to express, in writing to the Manager of Community Services no later than May 1, 2020, his/her intentions to leave the Lion’s Head Beach Campground;

AND THAT Council approves that all transient camp site bookings scheduled prior to June 1, 2020 will be refunded by the Municipality;

AND THAT Council directs that no new transient and/or seasonal bookings be scheduled until further direction is received from Council to do so.

Carried 

4. Electronic Participation in Council Meetings for Emergency Purposes (amend Procedural By-law)

Mrs. Standen advised that the Municipality has a platform to deliver electronic meetings for open regular council meetings. She said that there are staff members who are familiar with the program and the Procedural By-law will need to be amended. Mrs. Standen indicated that the delivery of closed session meetings is currently being investigated. Mrs. Standen confirmed that only one meeting is required to amend the Procedural By-law to approve the use of electronic meetings in the instance of this pandemic emergency. 

OTHER BUSINESS 

Mayor McIver reminded Council of the importance of maintaining an appropriate relationship between Council and Staff in accordance with the Council/Staff Relations By-law and Policy and the Council Code of Conduct and further that staff are to be treated with respect. Mayor McIver asked if an issue arises that it be brought to his attention.

Mrs. Addison provided an update on COVID-19 and the following was noted:

• The Municipality of Northern Bruce Peninsula (MNBP) declared a state of emergency on March 24, 2020 at 9:00 a.m.

• As of 3:00 p.m. on March 24, 2020 all 8 lower-tier Bruce County municipalities had declared a state of emergency

• Residents have been calling to clarify the press release regarding visitors to the Bruce Peninsula as there was misinformation distributed by CBC that cottagers were asked not to come to the Northern Bruce Peninsula

• The Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU) asked the Municipality to contact owners of multi-dwelling units and post a notice on how to stop the spread of Covid-19;

• Cemeteries will be starting full-burials

• The Government of Ontario announced an electricity rate relief for all individuals and families in Ontario and off-peak rates are being charged 24/7

• 572 individuals have tested positive for Covid-19 as of 5:30 p.m. on March 24, 2020

• Bruce Power is sending $8,000 to our local food banks; however, staff is unsure if each food bank is receiving $8,000 or if the funds are to be distributed between the Municipality’s two food banks

Councillor Golden stated that she clarified that the recent Municipal press release was not directed towards cottagers and she sent an email to CBC requesting that they correct the misinformation. 

Mayor McIver asked if the COVID-19 page on the website could be more accessible. 

Councillor Myles questioned if the Emergency Plan is based on the Municipality’s permanent population or total tax base (including seasonal residents). She said that it seems the health care system and other services are based on the permanent population and it is up to individuals to make a responsible decision based on the information available. 

Councillor Myles asked that information is clear and consistent when communicated and suggested that staff work with opinion leaders on Facebook or volunteers in the community to relay information. She also suggested that information be emailed to select individuals in the community to share on Facebook groups or other on-line platforms.

Mr. Barnes, Fire Chief, advised that, when in contact with various Fire Chiefs in Ontario, he was asked to forward a copy of the Municipality’s Pandemic Plan and many other municipalities have tweaked MNBP’s Pandemic Plan and made it their own. 

CORRESPONDENCE There is no Correspondence for Special Council Meeting No. 20-17, March 25, 2020.

READING OF BY-LAWS

Moved by L. Golden Resolution #17-07-2020 Seconded by D. Myles 

THAT the following listed by-law be given 1st, 2nd and 3rd reading and enacted:

2020-42 BEING A BY-LAW TO CONFIRM THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING OF THE CORPORATION OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF NORTHERN BRUCE PENINSULA HELD WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2020. Carried

CLOSED SESSION

There was no Closed Session for Special Council Meeting No. 20-17, March 25, 2020. 

RECONVENE FROM “CLOSED SESSION” TO RESUME COUNCIL MEETING

There was no Closed Session for Special Council Meeting No. 20-17, March 25, 2020.

ADJOURNMENT 

Moved by M. Myles Resolution #17-08-2020 Seconded by J. Mielhausen 

THAT the meeting adjourns at 10:56 a.m. Carried