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Saturday, August 13, 2022
COVID-19: Emergency group to remain in charge for now: Disero

The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake will continue to take direction from its emergency control group for now, says Lord Mayor Betty Disero.

Having the emergency group in charge enables the town can act quickly and refocus staff efforts in case there is a second wave of COVID-19 in the community, Disero told council Monday night.

The emergency control group, is comprised of the mayor, senior staff, members of the town’s fire and emergency services department and others. The group oversees all town operations during the pandemic.

Coun. Clare Cameron asked about when the town's state of emergency might end and whether it would coincide with the province's plans.

Disero said she’d like to see how the opening phases work out. Operating under a state of emergency gives town leaders special powers and make some decisions without having to get council approval.

“I’m fearful that if we get rid of the state of emergency too quickly, that we won’t be able to continue to redeploy staff as we see fit, because without the state of emergency, we can’t do that,” she said.

She said she’s also interested to see if the number of COVID-19 cases rises.

“If that doesn’t happen, then we will move as swiftly as we can,” she said.

Coun. Gary Burroughs has been vocal in saying he thinks council should be more involved in decision-making.

Disero said she’s been bringing “more and more” decisions back to council.

“If it’s something that needs to be made right away, we do it and report it,” she said.

“But things like whether or not we make masks mandatory, or whether or not we’re going to charge for parking for patios, those decisions I want council to make. I don’t want to make those decisions myself,” she said.

Interim CAO Sheldon Randall agreed he didn’t want the emergency group making those decisions either.

The emergency group has been in place since the town declared a state of emergency in March.

Disero said a document produced by the Chamber of Commerce on reopening the town will be brought to council next week, which will “help people understand how the town is opening up,” she said.