KAGAWONG – The Billings Township declaration of a state of emergency due to COVID-19 has now ended.
“We had our last emergency measures committee meeting yesterday (July 27) and passed a motion declaring the end of the emergency,” Billings Mayor Ian Anderson told The Expositor on Wednesday of last week.
“I J. Ian Anderson, head of council for the Corporation of the Township of Billings, declare that the emergency in the Township of Billings, for the entire area within the jurisdictional boundaries of the Township of Billings including all lands, waterways, and islands, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has ended,” the declaration reads.
“There are still over 100 municipalities in the province that have not ended their declaration of emergency,” said Mayor Anderson. “Our rationale for ending the declaration is that we have really good vaccination rates, Manitoulin Island has a better percentage rate of people having been vaccinated than the province of Ontario some, if not most, of the areas in the local (Public Health Sudbury and District) health unit.”
“And we have been COVID-19 free for the most part on the Island for quite some time,” continued Mayor Anderson, “and with the efforts of public health people are masking, social distancing and staying safe.”
However, Mayor Anderson noted, “with the new variant the medical community projects there is going to be an upsurge in COVID-19 cases. And as I understand things, even if you have been fully vaccinated it does not mean people can’t get COVID-19.”
“With the state of emergency, it allowed our township the opportunity to react the same day to changing realities around COVID,” explained Mayor Anderson. “We could immediately make decisions in terms of safety measures to be taken in our community. And we will have a slight advantage over most municipalities if we must go to another state of emergency again, having gone through it once already.”
Billings township council, in April 2020, had declared a stage of emergency in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At that point in time both the federal and Ontario governments had declared a state of emergency.
Mayor Anderson had told council at a meeting in April 2020 that the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) S.4(10) states, “a declaration of emergency provides a municipality’s head of council the authority to take actions or make orders, which are not contrary to law, in order to protect the inhabitants of the area of the emergency. The township’s emergency plan would be enacted and decision-making authority with respect to the emergency would be transferred to the emergency control group as outlined in that plan. A declaration of emergency underscores the seriousness of the situation. Manitoulin is not immune to this global crisis and physical distancing, isolation and hygiene measures are just as important here as they are elsewhere. A declaration sends a strong, clear message to residents and neighbouring municipalities that the municipality is taking the current situation seriously and is taking every step that they can to protect residents from the threat. A declaration of emergency provides some additional rationale and potential reduction in liability for reducing municipal services if necessary. However, a declaration does not necessarily provide access to funding.”