All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Saturday, February 24th, 2024

Further discouragement of non-essential travel to PEC deferred

A resolution to further discourage non-essential travel to Prince Edward County has been deferred to next week.

Council seeks clear wording, more alignment to the province’s coming economic framework and consultation with the County’s new Economic Recovery Team.

Mayor Steve Ferguson presented the resolution at a second virtual meeting of council Thursday morning citing fears of crowds landing for the Victoria Day long weekend, and more cases of the COVID-19 virus.

The region’s fourth death and two more community-spread local lab-confirmed cases brought the region’s total to 41 in Hastings Prince Edward counties as of April 30.

The mayor stated the low numbers of coronavirus infections in this region are both a blessing and a curse for Prince Edward County. He is concerned the County could be portrayed as a ‘safe haven’ for visitors.

“That’s one of my primary concerns. We just can’t afford all the work that’s been done since March 11 to evaporate.”

Councillor Bill McMahon agreed.

“One of the strengths that we have is the spread of COVID-19 has not been very big here in the County but that’s also our greatest weakness. If we let people out there know we don’t have a lot of cases, they’ll be saying ‘that’s the place to go for the weekend’.”

Councillor Phil St. Jean agreed, noting concerns already reported with “party houses”.

Noting everybody wants the economy here to return, with no argument, councillor Bill Roberts supports a focus on the safety of the County’s most vulnerable citizens.

“It is important to focus on data,” he said, adding that this county’s numbers are relatively low, “because we have been very proactive, some call it zealous, and that has borne results. The data tells us that the GTA area is six times more prone to the virus than we are here; that Montreal is 21 times more prone to the virus than we are here. Our population, which is the second-oldest population in Ontario, of 60-plus, is up to 20-times more fatal with regard to COVID-19 than folks 50 and under. There’s no point in having an economic recovery if the means to get there involves putting heightened risk to that important part of our population.”

Councillor Jamie Forrester stated that whatever comes forward must be clear as people are always looking for loopholes.

“Once we open the doors, people are going to come and they’re going to come in large numbers,” said Forrester, noting concern about a second wave of the virus for both business and health care. He said many businesses could weather being shut down in April, May and June, but losing July and August “would be devastating”.

The mayor also stated the purpose of the motion was not to stop seasonal taxpayers from visiting their homes to check their properties for flood damage.

Councillor Phil Prinzen disagreed with further action, calling the provincial mandate for non-essential travel sufficient.

He spoke to concern for farmers setting up vegetable stands that rely on business from customers driving by and didn’t want to see neighbours pit against neighbours. “Travel,” he said, “is a provincial concern.”

The mayor stated the County will be following all steps yet to be communicated by the provincial government. The County’s new economic recovery team was struck up earlier this month to identify needs, communicate and equip the municipality to respond appropriately once emergency measures are lifted.

Council is expected to review the document again virtually, on Thursday, May 7 at 3 p.m.

Filed Under: Local News

About the Author:

RSSComments (26)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Chris Keen says:

    The whole point of self-isolation was to ensure our hospitals were not overrun with people needing intensive care for the virus as happened in Italy, New York city and elsewhere. This was accomplished. But we cannot remain in our homes isolated forever because this virus is never going to disappear.

    The addition of hundreds of billions of dollars in debt on both the federal and provincial levels cannot continue. The reduction in services/tax increases to pay for this moving forward is likely to be epic.

    The economy has to begin to move again. The new normal will probably include masks, some physical distancing, barriers remaining at cash desks etc… Some of us will get sick, hopefully in manageable numbers. And somewhere a scientist will come up with a vaccine which we’ll get every fall along with our flu shots.

  2. Angela says:

    Eagerness to re-open the stores, parks, etc and a return to a normal way of life is understandable. It is what all want and need. But how safe is it? What use is money if we don’t live to spend it? Will it take a second wave of this virus to convince people that we must error on the side of caution? The virus will not be impressed by our bravado. We will not defeat it by going back to business as usual prematurely, ready to accept casualties as long as we can meet for coffee, visit parks, and enjoy group activities. We need to move forward slowly, listen to the medical experts who know more than we think we do, and do nothing to sabotage what we have already achieved.

  3. Rob #2 says:

    But on the other side of the coin, how long does this shutdown need to carry on? I thought that the original goal was not to get 100% of humanity virus free (that is, eliminate the virus by preventing it from replicating) but rather to ease the burden on the hospitals and healthcare staff. Also, to buy some time to research the virus and transmission, effects etc. Some people now seem to be dreaming of accomplishing complete eradication of the virus through a shutdown, which is completely unreasonable.

    I get that there are greater risks to some portions of society. Perhaps those individuals do need to take more precautions. The stores can continue indefinitely with early morning openings dedicated to that population. They also can be aware of going places where there are large groups/masses of people. Maybe the new reality is to stay off of airplanes and minimize travel for some time. Perhaps we will see changes where salons, dentists etc can provide dedicated hours or days for these people to do business, in an environment of enhanced sanitation practices.

    I also realize that many seniors are secure with pensions and homes paid off. But there’s also a large subset of the population that need to make an income, and to be able to provide their services to our community through the business they own or are employed at. How sustainable is are the different levels of government handing out cash indefinitely? We read here about wasting the taxpayers money – how much is the free bag of garbage costing each week? In normal times posters here would be decrying that.

    I guess I’m just wondering what we are supposed to wait for. It seems like we could be waiting a year for a vaccine, and is there any guarantee that we don’t end up like we do with the flu – science guessing each summer what the virus might mutate to for the upcoming winter, sometimes guessing right and sometimes missing altogether?

    Humanity will need to face this virus, and possibly that means many, if not all of the readers of this board. Sounds unsympathetic but what are the options? The status quo – where Government decides I am immune from the virus at the liquor store, pot shop, No Frills or Wal-Mart, but am not allowed to go into Canadian Tire, or go to a park.

    Take a look at Belleville on the last couple of weekends. The traffic on the roads is almost the same as it usually is on a sunny Saturday or Sunday. The population is slowly deciding that enough is enough. Whether you like that decision or not, they are what is driving the desire to get back to work. Or play. Short of the armed military coming into town I don’t think you have a way to discourage this behaviour.

    It sucks that this has happened to the world, and it is sickening if this was somehow deliberately released. The new reality is that precautions will need to be taken long into the future but those precautions also need to permit a functioning economy and also a functioning school system.

    Be optimistic though. A lot of smart people have observed and learned a lot from this whole exercise and we will be better prepared for the future. Dump on Trump as is fashionable in “The County”, but if this spurs a move back toward manufacturing domestically it can be a benefit long term in providing jobs on this continent. That isn’t a bad thing in my eyes although seeing any significant change is probably on the order of generational, not in a few short years.

    So exercise personal precaution and see what the next few weeks bring.

  4. Mark says:

    The City of Belleville is opening 2 boat launches this Friday. Wondering when ours will get up and running soon.

  5. Susan says:

    Money, right or wrong is how we run our economy, our health care, public health, food etc. Without it we would be crippled and hiding from the virus with no future,

  6. Doris Lane says:

    I agree with most of the writers. We should try and isolate the county as much as possible
    One thing I would like to see is that everyone who enters a store which is open SHOULD
    WEAR A MASK. People should not be allowed in stores if they are not wearing a mask
    Every store should post a sign requiring shoppers to wear masks

  7. Dennis Fox says:

    There is a problem developing about what should people do – and it seems to be based on what can people afford to do. Even our provincial leader is commenting about people paying taxes on a vacation property they can’t use, as being an infringement on their rights?? We are losing the focus as to what the real problem is – A DISEASE that knows no limits nor cares about how rich a person may be – or not. What we have been told and what has shown itself to be true is that social isolation and staying home is working. This approach is helping our healthcare workers and keeping our hospitals working.

    So how can allowing people to migrate from their primary residence to their holiday place be safe for all involved? Right – it can’t be safe! So why is the idea being floated out there? After months of sacrifice, money seems to be pushing politicians into a bad decision – a decision (if made) that will place the public’s safety at risk. So why would anyone take this chance? MONEY and how wrong is that?

  8. Johanna says:

    Would it be possible for the County to put out a notice that all visitors coming to the County must self isolate for 14 days. This is the same rule that still applies to all people traveling to other areas.

  9. Dave says:

    I think if they want to try to stop people going to PEC there should be a block on people leaving as well. You can’t have a one way gate. There are lots of PEC residents going to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal for work or other reasons. BLOCK THEM. Even Belleville travel should be blocked. The virus is there also!

    Otherwise, what is the point?

  10. Martin says:

    As a vacation property owner, I pay a lot of taxes and support the local economy when at my second home. I am also an intelligent person and know how to practice proper personal hygiene and physical distancing. If the councillors elect to ban people from exercising their property rights, it’s a slippery slope. In other words, why would a permanent resident have more rights to use their own property than anyone else?

  11. Gary says:

    The Premier has announced that the Province is getting close to reopening parks. This will be significant for the County given the popularity of the Sandbanks.

  12. Chuck says:

    Dennis, as long as we hide in our homes the virus will not increase. When we come out soon, particularly in fall it will hit those it is waiting for. Until 70% acquire immunity from a vaccine or we acquire immunity thru contact it will continue. We haven’t thus far defeated the virus, we have just hidden from it!

  13. Dennis Fox says:

    I believe that Council should reinstate the tourist tax they postponed a short while ago – it may be one way to discourage tourists and with the provincial limitations still in place, it would give the accommodation owners time to get their system in place. I was never sure why they postponed it in the first place – it wasn’t as if any tourist could come here.

    But there is concern still within the community of visitors arriving, so I hope there will be no unwarranted push by neither politicians nor business people to open up too soon. As we have heard a number of times, there will be another wave of COVID – by some careful thought now, we can avoid a full relapse later.

  14. Fred says:

    The County could have kept open and managed boat launches today with fishing opening by deploying anyone of the County employees who have all be deemed essential workers. Instead private launches were swarmed without distancing controls. This boat launch closing was not necessary and caused more harm than good,

  15. Gary says:

    Fail to see what is trying to be achieved here. The Province already has a non essential travel advisory.

  16. Brigitte says:

    Fine, stay shut for two years or forever if no vaccine available. Then you’ll appreciate where your revenue comes from. What’s wrong with cottagers or seasonal trailers? We can all isolate just like in our homes. Problem with Montreal and Toronto is urban density. No worries about us spending our $$$ at your local stores.

  17. Mark says:

    The Mayor should withdrawal the motion. The Province is starting the plan to open up.

  18. Chuck says:

    Many scientists believe the virus will impact for 2 years until we get 70% herd immunity. We may be preventing a crush on the health care system, but until we have that immunity the virus will prevail.

  19. Angela says:

    Your comment is amusing John. You caution against providing more fodder for the them vs us locals and refer to those in the county who think they own it. That really spreads oil on troubled waters.That comment alone offers fodder in itself. We don’t think we own it but we certainly did a lot to build it. You could try to respect that.

  20. Mojo says:

    Or we could take a page out of the Swedish play book and spread chicken manure around to prevent visitors. 4 days and the stuff is gone into the ground – especially if it rains.

  21. John says:

    I get the need to carefully manage this but we should be careful on the context
    and messaging since if it creates a “ them and us situation “ it will be more fodder for those in the county that think they own it !

  22. Chris Keen says:

    Our low infection numbers have little if anything to do with zealousness on the part of the County. We are not densely populated like Toronto or Montreal. Few people travelled here directly from hard-hit areas overseas (or now the U.S.). As a population that skews toward an older, very vulnerable demographic, we seniors have paid attention to the advice that we not travel unnecessarily and it has paid off.

    I agree with Councillor Prinzen. Once the provincial government decides to lift the “ban” against non-essential travel there will be nothing we can do. Council would be well-advised to express their concerns to Premier Ford directly.

  23. Angela says:

    The last thing we need are summer visitors. It is selfish and irresponsible of them to come here under the present circumstances. Why risk undoing all the good work locals have done to prevent the spread of the virus by welcoming outsiders who are chomping at the bit to get to trailer parks and cottages? We have tried hard to follow the rules and these people need to do the same – STAY HOME until it is safe.

  24. Dennis Fox says:

    It appears that this new Economic Recovery Team is taking on more than what was originally explained in the newspapers to the community. As reported in The Times this week – “The Economic Recovery Team is tasked to identify the needs of County businesses and to facilitate communication. The team will also “look at” how to best take advantage of the various programs being rolled out by the federal and provincial governments.” Nowhere did I read that this team would influence decisions of council in matters that pertained to the health of this community.

  25. Debbie says:

    I feel that above all , the priority at the moment is that can our hospital and emergency services task anymore “unforeseen” emergencies? Our frontline healthcare workers (this includes pharmacy and paramedics) have already been overwhelmed enough with COVID. It only takes 1 infected person which holda true given that we have already had issues in the very beginning with people who travelled outside of country who did NOT self-isolate accordingly. Distancing and 14 day self-isolation had to be escalated to strict consequences to re-enforce compliance because there are people out there who DON’T get it and had these laws not be put in place we would be in a worse mess than we already are. Is our community confident enough lifting restrictions enough so people outside the community can come here and there won’t be further problems…

  26. Margaret says:

    Unfortunately we have a lot of people here from Toronto and Quebec staying in their vacation homes already and have been for several weeks. I have heard quite a few of them are traveling back and forth from the city to Picton on a weekly basis. I fear that with their total disregard for others safety it’s going to increase our numbers of the virus here. It makes those of us who are deemed essential service very resentful as we can not see our families and won’t for potentially a long time due to self people who feel the rules for non essential travel, not going to vacation homes and stay at home doesn’t apply to them.

OPP reports
lottery winners
Elizabeth Crombie Janice-Lewandoski
Home Hardware Picton Sharon Armitage

© Copyright Prince Edward County News 2024 • All rights reserved.