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City of Kawartha Lakes establishes 2 coronavirus pandemic recovery task forces

City of Kawartha Lakes establishes 2 coronavirus pandemic recovery task forces
The City of Kawartha Lakes is taking its first steps in what will likely be a long recovery process from the pandemic. Mark Giunta has more on that.

The City of Kawartha Lakes remains committed to starting the long recovery process from the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, it took the first step when council, meeting virtually for the first time, established the economic recovery task force, which will be headed by Mayor Andy Letham, and the community pandemic recovery task force.

Both task forces will officially launch in May.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — 4 residents, 4 staff test positive at second Bobcaygeon long-term care home

The goal of the economic recovery task force is to revive businesses within the City of Kawartha Lakes.

“Top of mind for many is to get to the next phase of recovery,” said CAO Ron Taylor.  “We won’t do it at the expense of our response or our health and safety.”

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Taylor told council it’s good planning to look ahead to recovery while still focusing on the municipal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The tourism and hospitality sector, which is deemed non-essential and is closed right now, makes up a large part of the economy in the summer in the City of Kawartha Lakes.

Communities within the municipality, including Bobcaygeon, Coboconk and Fenelon Falls, rely heavily on cottagers and the Trent-Severn Waterway, which has delayed its navigation season until at least May 31.

Coboconk residents asking cottagers to stay home
Coboconk residents asking cottagers to stay home

The immediate priorities of the task force will be critical infrastructure investments, planning and development stimulus and business recovery and support.

The task force will also identify any shovel-ready planning any development projects and offer those projects up for fast-tracked approvals to support summer and fall construction projects to help encourage new development and spur economic growth.

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It will also survey the local business community to identify areas for support and stimulus and re-focus municipal programs to help support the recovery of those businesses.

The task force will include the mayor, deputy mayor, councillors and business representatives with direct knowledge of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local businesses and the economy.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — City of Kawartha Lakes eyes ‘soft re-opening’ of some outdoor services on May 12

Meanwhile, the community pandemic recovery task force will compile a comprehensive list of community support services, identify funding opportunities for appropriate resources, recommend partnerships and working groups to help leverage existing programs and services, and identify any gaps in service delivery and come up with ways to bridge those gaps.

“It’s to connect those community partners to help mobilize our services to help our most vulnerable residents,” said Taylor.

This task force would look at issues such as food security and the impact on Kawartha Lakes Food Source, as well as housing and lodging at shelters, including A Place Called Home in Lindsay, Letham said on earlier media calls.

It will be made up of community members and council representatives, who will bring information back to council.

On Tuesday, council also modified its planning advisory committee’s terms of reference to allow applications for development to go straight to council for consideration and approval to help expedite planning decisions during the pandemic.

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Final terms of reference and a list of interested stakeholders and volunteers for both task forces will be provided to council at the May 26 meeting.