Hello everyone, I hope you and your family are healthy and safe.
As the Mayor of a municipality, one of the first training sessions I received was centred around dealing with emergencies.
I was a Puslinch Firefighter during the SARS pandemic and full time firefighter during the H1n1. I remember thinking at the time “I doubt I’ll ever have to declare a state of emergency”.
Here we are, just over a year later, and ALL seven member municipalities have declared states of emergency in unison.
The consensus amongst the seven Mayors is that consistency of messages and actions across all member municipalities is very important to keep confusion to a minimum.
I understand this is a very difficult time for everyone. All Puslinch green spaces are now closed, all facilities remain closed (at least to the end of April).
Staff are continuing to work from home. Public works staff are operating out of the Municipal office, however maintaining physical distancing.
As tax instalments are coming due I encourage you if able to make your payments. There are conversations on social media that Puslinch has been “silent”, “doing nothing”, this is the furthest thing from the truth.
Some of the measures I supported to help our residents were – a two month interest penalty deferral to help people in this time of need, as well as the Keep Well program that is making available $1M dollars in low interest loans to help small business in Wellington County.
As soon as this program was approved, I contacted local small business to help get the word out and stressed the importance of applying as soon as possible. In two days, 30-40 applications were received.
If this money is exhausted, County Council may have discussions to go beyond the initial one million dollars offered. If this happens, your application cannot wait until “next week”. You must apply for these funds as soon as they become available.
Puslinch staff have been working extremely hard to keep it business as usual. Almost all services are available online, staff are accommodating and understanding. Staff attend the office to collect the mail regularly.
Garbage collection is on the minds of everyone. The transfer station is closed indefinitely. The common questions on social media are focused around switching to free garbage pickup, going to tags instead of yellow bags.
Solid waste service delivery is not going to change. We as a community need to buy into the User Pay system. As a community we need to promote a behaviour of reducing waste, recycling and reusing.
Free garbage pickup, switching to tag system where you can buy the largest black bag known is not conducive to sorting garbage and recycling. The yellow bags provided ensure everyone is getting equal value and not exploiting the user fee schedule to their own advantage.
We in Wellington County have ONE landfill site located in Riverstown with an anticipated life expectancy of 25 more years. After that we don’t have a plan B. We need everyone to accept that yellow bags are here to stay. Every one of us needs to participate in the program. Sort your garbage well, use recycling.
In July the County waste program will be transitioning to green bins for everyone, picked up weekly along with recyclables. By-pass or garbage every two weeks. The garbage trucks will also be collecting from both sides of the road in the rural areas as well. All of these service increases were a $1M annual increase to the County budget.
We as a County Council understood the need to preserve the capacity of Riverstown for the future. By implementing the green bins we could divert more from Riverstown thus extending the life of the facility. The time has come to participate in the User Pay system. It is time to learn new behaviours for the betterment of the community as a whole.
We all need to take COVID-19 very seriously. Please keep practicing physical distancing. Wash your hands regularly. I asked staff to put together a resource for local business and residents to access information on what programs being offered by all levels of Government.
All three levels of Government have been working extremely well together. Here is a link to the “one stop shop” for support programs:
To find these resources go to the Puslinch website, click on “doing business” you will then see a tool bar on the left hand side labeled “ covid -19…..”. Once you click on that tool bar you will see a list of support programs.
I want to thank staff for putting this together in a timely manner so that residents and businesses that need support can locate the information quickly. I also want to thank our Puslinch Councilors for their support through these first weeks of the pandemic.
I am very proud of our Council and how well we work together. I am also very excited to resume Council meetings as of April 8th 2020. Council will be returning to the regular scheduled day for our meetings starting in May.
Council is conducting our business electronically until further notice. Due to the strain on bandwidth as we all stay home, we will be having our electronic meetings at 2pm when Internet usage is at a lower level.
One resource that may be of use is my “Connect with Mayor James Seeley” Facebook page. I use this page to post media releases from the County and Puslinch.
Please continue to practice physical distancing and wash your hands regularly.
We are in this together and together we will get through this.