Mayor Doug Struthers is proud of how Merrickville-Wolford residents have come together to keep each other safe from COVID-19. He says that, right from the get-go, he saw residents and business owners taking the recommendations from health officials and upper levels of government seriously. He believes that it is through the hard work of the community that they have been able to keep Merrickville-Wolford free and clear of COVID-19. “I can’t thank the people of Merrickville-Wolford enough,” he says.
As soon as the state of emergency was declared in Ontario, council decided to only hold meetings on an as-needed basis, and to enact the Village’s emergency control group to address COVID-19 related issues. Over the past few months, council has met a handful of times to reduce the budget in response to COVID-19, pass a resolution to reduce commercial water rates to the residential rate, and to suspend all penalties on water and sewer billing. Mayor Struthers says the best thing that council did before the state of emergency was declared was to pass the budget, because it has allowed staff to continue serving the community. “It’s business as usual, just a little different way to do business,” he says.
At this point, Mayor Struthers says they are listening and paying attention to what upper tiers of government and health authorities announce next. Things have already started opening up and many of the businesses which had to close their doors in March are allowed to invite customers back into their stores, as long as physical distancing and sanitation measures are put in place. “There are very specific and clear guidelines for businesses,” Mayor Struthers says. “It’s encouraging that people know what they are doing.”
According to what he has been observing at the provincial level, Mayor Struthers doesn’t think that the state of emergency in Ontario will be extended past June 30. This means that council will go back to their regularly scheduled council meetings in July. The next special meeting has already been called for June 22.
Although he believes things are going well, Mayor Struthers acknowledges that this is a strange middle ground, where everyone is trying to adapt to the new normal and no one knows what the future will hold. He encourages residents, business owners and visitors to the municipality to continue to follow the guidelines as more businesses open and people get out and about. “Slow and steady wins the race,” he says. “We can get there.”