The Merrickville and District Chamber of Commerce held a stakeholder meeting last Tuesday evening to discuss how the different groups in Merrickville-Wolford are adapting to COVID-19 restrictions. Many have had to either modify or cancel their events this year, but are looking forward to 2021, when they can hopefully return so some normality. Despite COVID-19, Chamber President, Yves Grandmaitre, says they have still seen an influx of visitors in the village, especially over the weekend.
Because Merrickville is still looking to attract tourists to the village this summer, the issue of public washrooms came up once again. Mayor Doug Struthers confirmed at the meeting that all municipal buildings remain closed, which means that washrooms in these buildings are not available. He says staff have been working to address the issue, and have identified porta potties that could be placed throughout the village for the public’s use. The problem is, they are having trouble securing the staff to make sure proper COVID-19 cleaning policies are maintained throughout the day. They are currently focusing on attracting summer students, who might be able to fill this need for the village.
Both Nick Previsich, from the Merrickville Artist Guild, and resident, Robyn Eagle, asked how municipal washrooms were cleaned in the past, and whether the same people would be able to look after the porta potties in the village this year as well. Mayor Struthers reminded the group that cleaning practices are much more involved because of COVID-19, and that it would probably take a full time employee to make sure they are sanitized properly on the days when the porta potties would be open to the public. Yves said that, even if they were only available on the weekends, it would go a long way to improve the availability of washrooms in the village. “There might also be some best practices we can take from other municipalities,” he said.
Merrickville Public Library Librarian, Mary-Kate Laphen, said at the meeting that she might know someone who would be willing to take on the job with the municipality this summer. Mayor Struthers indicated that anyone with leads should have them contact CAO Doug Robertson, or Manager of Operations, Brad Cole. “Public washrooms are an issue for many towns,” Mayor Struthers said. “It is recognized by the municipality there is the need, and, if we can find the staffing, we will have them.”