MARCH 17, 2020

Over the past several months we have watched with concern as the COVID 19 virus developed in China and then quickly spread across the globe.  Over the past several weeks the Town has been preparing for the event that our community will continue to be affected.  As of today, I can report that there are no confirmed cases of COVID 19 in our region, but we still need to plan assuming that it is only a matter of time until we are directly affected.

To prepare for this event the Town has taken the following actions:

  • We have closed all public daycare centers effective March 14th until April 5th, at which time we will re-assess the situation.
  • All schools have been ordered closed effective March 14th until April 5th, at which time the Province will provide further direction.
  • Effective March 14th we have closed the Tim Horton Event Centre and related recreational/public meeting facilities until April 5th, at which time we will reassess the situation.
  • The Cochrane Public Library and the Polar Bear Habitat have been closed to the public effective March 14th, until April 5th.
  • On March 16th, the Town opened its EOC (emergency operations centre) in order to coordinate with other public agencies such as the hospital and the OPP. The EOC will be meeting on a regular basis and updating Mayor and Council on any new developments.
  • We have taken the appropriate steps of identifying key municipal services such as water/sewage treatment operators and winter operation operators and have taken steps to ensure these positions have redundancy in the event of staff illness.
  • The Town will be using technology to its advantage by conducting electronic meetings and a VPN network that allows staff to work from home if needed.

This morning we heard that the Province of Ontario has declared a state of emergency and has ordered the closure of restaurants, clubs and bars to the public. Take out and delivery remain options for restaurants. We will continue to monitor this directive understanding the significant impact these closures may have on peoples lives and our local economy.

We understand that with labour disruption comes financial challenges.  Any resident who is experiencing financial hardship please know that the Town will work with you on an individual basis to provide relief from taxes or water bill interest charges.  The Province and the Federal government are also promising financial aid to businesses impacted by this situation.

In times like these we understand that you may be afraid or uncertain about the future.  I can tell you that things will get better, but in the meantime, we must pull together to support and care for each other in times of need.  I would encourage all residents of Cochrane to not panic, and to take personal responsibility for your health by staying vigilant about washing your hands, coughing into your sleeve instead of your hand, practice social distancing of 6 feet, avoid unnecessary contact from things like shaking hands and most importantly stay home if you are sick.

We would also like to discourage people from hoarding food and supplies such as toilet paper.  Remember our most vulnerable people may not have the means to stockpile supplies and when they have the resources key items may not be available to them. Our community continues to receive regular shipments of food and supplies, and we are not anticipating any shortages.

These are uncertain times and we do not have all the answers, but I will promise you that the Town will keep you informed of our activities and efforts to protect you and your family.  Mayor and Council also encourages you to take care of one another, check in on your neighbours, and stay safe. This is not the first time our community has faced adversity and we are prepared to meet the call, but we need your help too.  Keep an eye on each other, check in on your neighbours and together we will weather these uncertain times.