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Coronavirus: City of Kawartha Lakes extends state of emergency to June 2

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City of Kawartha Lakes has extended its state of emergency until June 2nd - as a precaution only. Mark Giunta reports – May 13, 2020

The Ontario government extended its state of emergency declaration amid the coronavirus pandemic until June 2 and now the City of Kawartha Lakes is doing the same.

The municipality is doing it as a precautionary measure.

“I would think on June 2, if the trends continue, we’ll make a decision at that time regardless of what the province does whether we want to continue,” said Mayor Andy Letham. “What that does locally, if something pops up, it allows us to put local orders in place if we have to.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Emergency order allows Ontario to control management of long-term care homes

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The extension does not affect the reopening process of several services in the municipality.

The Lindsay landfill reopened on Monday with physical-distancing measures enforced. There is no cash being accepted. The Fenelon and Eldon sites will reopen on Victoria Day. Letham told reporters on the weekly teleconference briefing that more than 300 vehicles came to the landfill site on Monday.

The Victoria Rail Trail reopened to vehicular traffic, with strict physical-distancing enforced, on Tuesday.

Most municipal boat launches will reopen on Thursday with the exception of a few that are under construction.

“We want to urge everyone to be safe,” Letham said. “If you’re going to go out fishing, you’re allowed. If you’re going to use our boat launches, you’re allowed. As usual, follow all safe boating practices because the water is really cold. Be careful and let’s have an enjoyable long weekend where we can get outdoors.

“Let’s not do anything silly and `not have some kind of tragedy, hopefully.”

According to CAO Ron Taylor, the municipality appears to be stable right now from a financial standpoint, although the full scope of the coronavirus pandemic impact isn’t known at this time.

“We will be updating council formally on May 26. We’re finalizing the numbers this week,” he said.  “There is stability in our budgets. There are still some wild cards if we don’t proceed, and I’m suspecting we won’t proceed, with some revenue-generating programs such as summer events. We need to make decisions in the immediate term.”

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Taylor told reporters there appears to be little to no impact on whether capital projects will go ahead this year.

“Overall, based on our general operating budgets, we are stable up to June 30. We are looking line by line at our capital budgets to make sure we can initiate those projects right across the board. It appears we will be able to manage and afford a full capital program this year,” he said.

For now, the municipality is not looking to rehire more than 200 part-time and seasonal employees that were laid off last month.

“My comments are up to the end of May at this time,” said Taylor. “In order to keep that budget stability, we have to balance our expenses. We have reduced our overall workforce. I’m hopeful that we will start to bring online, when we get to more business as usual, certain employees that were laid off.”

Meanwhile, two pandemic recovery task forces continue to take shape. One is focusing on business and economic recovery, while the other is focusing on community services and supports.

The economic recovery task force is looking at survey results from an online questionnaire that closed on Monday.

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It was sent to local businesses to gauge the impact of the pandemic and closures.

The tourism sector is the largest economic driver in the City of Kawartha Lakes. It’s also the one that’s been hardest hit.

“I’m not ready to write off this year for tourism just yet,” said Letham. “I think the recovery is certainly into next year. I think that’s a good discussion we’re going to have with that task force in the near future.  It’s a challenge. There’s no doubt about it.”

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