Dec 10, 2020
I will give you the latest release regarding the fight against COVID-19 and will update you on the Rec Center in the context of establishing the 2021 Budget.
As you must be well aware by now, the COVID-19 pandemic has a strong grip on the Country and for the past few weeks its effects have been particularly severe in Alberta and even sorely taxing our hospitals and medical personnel at all levels due to increase hospitalizations. In our Health Zone, we now have 43 active cases, including on the Reserve, in Town and in the County of Cardston. Since my last release, we have added one more fatality due to COVID; our sincere condolences to the family in mourning.
With numbers on the rise, everyday we all become more vulnerable to catching the virus. We need to conscientiously protect ourself, our family, our friends, our community, our Province by following AHS guidelines, wearing a mask, keeping our distances and washing or sanitizing our hands often. To all those in our Health Zone who are sick and suffering, or who are in quarantine, we wish you a speedy recovery and safe return to your activities.
On Dec 8, 2020, in consequence of the serious state of the pandemic in Alberta, and under the advice of Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Premier Jason Kenney has now declared a State of Public Health Emergency and imposed new stringent guidelines for the next four weeks to protect the Health Care System from COVID-19. Be aware that this means that RCMP and Town Peace officers now have the powers to fine those not willing to abide by the new regulations.
Let us review the rules most applicable to our Cardston Community:
As of Tuesday Dec 8th,
- Mandatory mask wearing when in all public indoor places including workplaces-
- All indoor or outdoor social gatherings are prohibited.
In addition, and starting this Sunday, Dec 13th:
- Work-from-home measures unless an employer determines work requires a physical presence for effectiveness. Our Town Staff will be limited to a core crew to provide essential services to the public;
- Reduction of attendance in all business establishments to 15% of Building Fire Code capacity. This means that you will need to arm yourself with much patience when going to a store. It is a time to support the local merchants who do their best to keep their businesses open for our shopping enjoyment and wear your mask.
- No in-person dining. Restaurants can only offer take out services, curbside pick-up and deliveries.
- Closing of all recreational centers including indoor recreation facilities such as the ice arena, gym and fitness centers.
- Closing of our library and closing of all museums.
- Closing of businesses specializing in personal and wellness services including Hair and Nail Salons and massage businesses.
And here are the new rules that will affect us all most directly in our homes and families:
- No house gathering beyond those living currently under your roof except for the addition of those students studying out of town and for whom your house is their principal place of residence.
- Students studying out of country and coming back home must follow the Border Testing Pilot Program including quarantine protocol and testing for COVID-19 as per AHS guidelines.
- If you live alone or if you are a single parent with children under 18, you are allowed the 2 same contacts to visit your home throughout the duration of the restriction beyond the normal help you receive from a caregiver or repair workers.
This next regulation is going to be very hard on many families in town who looked with anticipation for the visit of loved ones other than students at Christmas:
- Out-of-town visitors cannot stay in other people’s homes while the restrictions are in place, regardless of where they are coming from or how closely related they are to you. So as an example and to make it clear, if you have grown up friends or children and their families who want to come to visit for Christmas, it should not happen as disheartening as it may be.
Vice-versa, if you planned on visiting someone for Christmas, it should not happen either.
Mr. Kenney commented: ” While we appreciate this may affect your travel plans as you may wish to visit or stay with family, the increase in COVID cases is being taken very seriously and these enhanced public health measures are required to stop the spread of COVID-19. “
- Wedding and funerals must be held in a public place with a maximum of 10 people and no reception. Please refer to the alberta.ca site for full details.
- Faith services are limited to 15% of fire code occupancy for in-person attendance with physical distancing between household and mandatory mask use- Here again much details is offered on the alberta.ca site
- Unnecessary travel out of town is discouraged to stop intercommunity transmission. So if you are planning ski trips, check with the operator before living town.
For more details, please refer to the Alberta.ca website regarding enhanced public health measures
These decisions will be respected by many who want to be part of the solution to curb the fast COVID moving wave, but may also be met with defiance by those who feel their liberties are been jeopardized.
Having lived through May 1968 and its aftermath in France, I personally know what it means to lose your freedoms and liberties. These events are etched in my memory and I was glad to adopt Canada as my new home. But when I took my oath to become a Canadian citizen I understood and accepted that having freedoms and rights also meant that I had to assume some responsibilities and do my part.
At this difficult time in our history, what Governments at all levels are asking of us is simply to assume some collective responsibilities as citizens for the common good of our nation because of a pandemic that is not only threatening lives, but with it the entire economy if not seriously curtailed.
How many generations down the line will look back with great sadness at the 2020 and wander why they have to bear the emotional and heavy fiscal burden brought in by the less than careful actions of their forbearers during the COVID-19 Pandemic? We need to think of them, unite now as citizens to win this COVID battle, give hope to our children and do the right thing now. The faster we all assume our responsibilities to flatten the curve to protect our elders and elderly, the faster we will all return to our normal lives. Yes, a vaccine is coming and that is the bright light shining in our dark wintery pandemic night, but it will still take some time before we can all start to feel safe again and resume our gatherings and celebrations. As difficult and painful as this may be, we need to search our conscience and even if reluctantly follow the new rules for the common good.
Christmas 2020 will be seared in our collective memories, as one when we could not gather with our children, our grandchildren and their families, a time when friends could not be welcome into our homes. Let us make every effort possible with the aid of technology to still reach out to our loved ones and friends, the lonely and the shut-ins. They need to hear our voices, it will comfort them, it will ease their loneliness and distress. Let us give them hope and let them know that they are not forgotten.
For some who have lost a loved one or who have an ailing member of the family, or friend, the days ahead with the new restrictions may be very difficult for you. Our hearts are troubled by the pains you have to endure at this time. Our prayers are with you and for you.
But let us all look forward with a brightness of hope to a better and brighter Year ahead. United, we can!
Let us now address the second topic:
- Update on the rec Center
In my last video release, I indicated that Council had approved in principle $1 Million dollars towards a potential Recreation facility in the upcoming 2021 Capital Budget. After some deliberations, Council unanimously decided on Dec 8, 2020 to adopt an interim budget rather than to approve the proposed 3 year operational and 5 year capital budgets. Here is the rationale that guided this decision.
Council felt that there were too many unknown to approve the 2021 and subsequent budgets. The total cost of the Rec Center is still unknown and the polling cannot be done until we fully understand the rec center tax impact on the operational budget. The Province has intimated that transfers to the municipalities would be severely reduced in 2022 and possibly very slim or inexistent in 2023. New Policing costs for municipalities under 5000 will go up significantly over the next 3 years and beyond.
As Council, we need more certainty in all these facts before passing the budgets. We hope to do so at the latest by March 31, 2021, prior to the start of our discussions on the mill rate.
An interim budget simply means that we will function with our current 2020 operational budget, but that we will not allow for capital expenditures until the next budget is passed. If an emergency occurred requiring funding, Council will approved the use of reserves. So, the Town will continue to function as normal.
Stay healthy, be kind and stay safe. And to all, a Merry Christmas!