With Step 1 of the Roadmap to Reopen upon us, it has been so great to see some hustle and bustle returning to Meaford’s downtown core. Restaurant have set up their patios along Sykes Street, and the Meaford BIA is starting a vendor’s market beginning today that will take place in the market square, each Friday throughout the summer. I am so proud of how our community has worked hard to reopen safely, and is continuing to wear masks, wash hands, and watch our distance as we enjoy the easing restrictions. The second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are continuing to roll out, with those vaccinated on or before May 9th now eligible to book. I have just received my second dose, and I hope you will too as soon as you are able. As always, check with the Grey Bruce Health Unit to find out when you can book your jab. 

Although getting some things back to normal has lifted our spirits, heavy hearts are sharing in the grief of families and communities who have lost loved ones through tragic events of late.  Meaford once again raised the rainbow flag in honour of pride month, but it stayed at half-mast in recognition of the indigenous children lost to the residential school system. This was closely followed by a devastating attack on a Muslim family in London that reminds us how much more work we have left to do. One thing we have learned through our experience of COVID-19 is the power of the important values of kindness, acceptance and inclusivity. In September of last year, Council passed a motion condemning, oppression, racism, systemic violence and unjust treatment against people of colour, and we are committed to working towards diversity and inclusion in all of our policies and procedures. It is up to every one of us to uphold those values, and those principles must embrace all of our neighbours, visitors, and newcomers to the area.

As Canada Day approaches, now is a great time to reflect on why we love it here, and what we can do to make Meaford an even better place in which to live, work and play. Please join us as we celebrate online this year by visiting Meaford.ca/CanadaDay. There will be made-in-meaford music, family activities, a flag raising ceremony, and more. It’s a great way for us to celebrate, separately, but still together, while gathering limits remain in place. 

Happy Canada Day, and stay well everyone! 

 - Mayor Barb Clumpus

June 4, 2021

With the Provincial stay-at-home order lifted on June 2nd, things are looking up as we head into the summer months. Although many restrictions remain in place until June 14th when the new Provincial Roadmap to Reopening comes into effect, the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter as vaccination numbers rise, and hospital admissions drop. It is encouraging to know that as our progress continues, we have much to look forward to in Step 1 of the reopening plan.  For now, though, we are limited to outdoor gatherings of no more than 5 people, with indoor get-togethers still prohibited.  

Today, I want to give a shout-out to our dedicated staff who have provided the services they can over these many months, and particularly right now, the parks crew who have been hard at work getting the outdoor recreation facilities ready for the hot, sunny weather that is predicted for this weekend. Thanks to approval from the Health Unit, the Splash Pad at McCarroll Park will open this weekend, as will the public washrooms in all our parks. You may have noticed the abundance of in memoriam public benches and picnic tables along the waterfront that will welcome folks to pause awhile and enjoy the spectacular view. When we move into Step 1 of the Provincial Roadmap, the Blue Dolphin Pool will open with capacity limits in place, retail store restrictions will ease and patio dining will become available.  Memorial Park will welcome campers on June 14th, and outdoor gathering limits will increase from 5 to 10 people.  

It has been imprinted on our minds how effective following the health unit protocols has been in keeping the transmission rates of the virus low in our community, so to ensure that restrictions will ease soon, let’s continue to wear masks where required, wash our hands, and watch our distance when in public spaces. Together, we have survived three waves of the pandemic with relatively few cases of infection, thanks to your commitment and determination to keep our families and community safe.  Let’s continue that fight by getting vaccinated when your turn comes.  We look forward to a summer of second doses, and having all ages protected, by booking their vaccinations through the provincial online system at www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine.  This will prepare us to reconnect more fully in September, with the community we love.

Stay well, everyone.

May 21, 2021

It’s the May long weekend, the much anticipated start of summer, and the weather is co-operating, but the stay-at home-order continues.   We are happy to know the 3rd wave spike in COVID-19 cases is dropping and hospital capacity has improved, however in “an abundance of caution” the stay-at-home order is extended until June 2nd.  Traditional Victoria Day celebrations of barbecues, picnics, hikes and bike rides with members of our households can be enjoyed by adding curbside pickup from local restaurants and businesses, and virtual visits with friends and loved ones. Please continue to follow the Provincial orders by limiting contact to those in your household, staying home for just a bit longer, and avoiding gatherings even when outdoors.

The good news from the Grey Bruce Health Unit is that they are now booking all adults over the age of 18 for COVID-19 vaccines. Please take advantage of this, online or by phone through the health unit. The sooner we reach “herd immunity”, the sooner restrictions can be lifted and we can begin to recover from the very real social and economic impact of the pandemic. For over a year we have all been asked to do our part, and getting your vaccine is the culmination of all we have been through. Visit https://www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca/ to book today.

You may have noticed some work going on around our community, particularly in our parks and at the Blue Dolphin pool to be ready to reopen our outdoor recreation facilities when the provincial restrictions are lifted.  Staff are working diligently to prepare for summer activity with new protocols in place to ensure they can operate safely within Health Unit guidelines.  Watch for updates on facility openings as things progress by visiting our website at www.meaford.ca/openandclosed for the latest information on our services.

However you enjoy this first long weekend of the summer, please stay strong, hopefully for just a little while longer. Your resilience, getting the vaccination, and caring for each other shown by sticking with the health protocols of wearing masks, washing hands, and maintaining social distances will keep our community safe as we ride out the last of this third wave.

Stay well everyone.

May 7, 2021

This week in Grey/Bruce we are seeing the positive results of the Provincial stay-at-home order, with fewer new cases appearing from the contact tracing necessary after an incident two weeks ago. This welcome trend relies on keeping the new variants at bay. That glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel has been a little wobbly of late, so now is the time to buckle down and stick to the guidelines like limiting unnecessary travel and avoiding crowded areas. That will help get Grey-Bruce back to the “Green – Prevent” level of the Provincial Recovery Framework where restrictions can begin to relax.

This spring weather lures us all outdoors, but please remember to keep your distance. If you are concerned about an incident where the Provincial order seems to be disregarded, a call to the OPP on their non-emergency line at 1-888-310-1122 will bring this to their attention to address.

Beginning May 10th, The Grey Bruce Health Unit is offering vaccinations for ages 40+, those with high-risk health conditions, or for those who cannot work from home, and it is projected that vaccinations for all those 18 and over will be available by the week of May 24th. Please continue to visit the health unit website for updates, and book your vaccine when you are eligible.

We have learned so much through the COVID-19 pandemic; we have lived the experience of what it takes to survive an emergency. However, this past week was Emergency Preparedness Week; particularly recognizing the importance of having at hand a 72-hour emergency kit containing dried/canned food, water, medications, first-aid supplies, candles, flashlights and batteries – enough to carry your family through anything from a pandemic shutdown, to a power outage or extreme weather event. More information on building a kit and a plan for your family is available at www.meaford.ca/emergencymanagement.

We are hopeful that this 3rd wave will ease up over these next weeks and that glimmer of light in the tunnel will grow much brighter. Keeping the number of infections low and getting more and more folks vaccinated will help to rescind the stay-at-home order, and to reduce those restrictions that have been so difficult to bear. Please do your part, avoid gatherings outside of your home group, and stick to the 3 W’s – Wear a mask, Wash your hands, and Watch your distance.

Stay well, everyone.

April 23, 2021

The uptick in local infections of the virus this week meant that some vaccinations were delayed to allow the Grey Bruce Health Unit to catch up on the significant volume of contact tracing this caused. However, by Sunday Dr. Arra announced that they were able to redeploy staff to manage the contact volume, and to return to vaccinating folks in priority sequences and more broadly through the hockey hub locations. This week, local case numbers continue to be higher than we’ve seen in the past. The COVID-19 Variants which are present in our area, are of concern because they are more virulent and highly contagious, so it is important that we all continue to follow the stay-at-home order, avoid unnecessary travel, and stick to the three W’s – Wear a mask, Wash your hands, and Watch your distance.

Last weekend, the Province put in place stricter measures to reduce the virus spread across Ontario. This has necessitated even more patience as we implement these changes to our Municipal services, so thank you for that. At the moment, our playgrounds, trails, boat launch, parks and green spaces are open, as is the leaf and garden waste depot on 7th Line. Outdoor recreation facilities such as the skateboard park, tennis courts, and baseball diamonds are closed. The goal is to discourage gatherings where the variants could spread easily, so please limit close contact to those in your household and keep this in mind as you enjoy the outdoors.

As the vaccination clinics continue to roll out, I encourage you to sign up when your turn comes. I am relieved and happy to have had my vaccination. The process was very smooth and efficient, and I’ve had no after effects. It does take your body time to build up immunity after getting the dose, so please continue to stay safe and follow the usual precautions, particularly keeping your distance and wearing a mask when around others.

As we ride out this third wave of limited outings, still virtual social interactions, and the frustrating impact on our jobs and children’s education, I know how difficult it is to stay positive and to find things to look forward to. My spirits are lifted with the warmth of sunshine, the new green appearing in the willows and very welcome arrival of spring flowers. A friendly wave and hello from folks we meet outdoors – distantly of course – always brings a smile. We will come through this difficult time, as we have with the previous waves, and I hope you are all able to find moments of peace and happiness in these trying times.

Stay well, everyone.

April 16, 2021

We have been extremely lucky until now to have had very low case numbers in our area, that labeled us a “low risk area”, but as the Grey Bruce Health Unit saw a staggering over 70 new cases in a 36 hour period this week, Dr. Arra has declared a critical threshold and asked that we all step up and do what’s necessary to keep our community safe.

The Health Unit has redeployed staff from other areas, including the vaccine clinics and info line, to keep up with necessary contact tracing that is close to 500 from those 70 new cases. The variant of the original COVID-19 virus we are experiencing is so highly contagious that under this situation we all must consider ourselves to be a potential carrier. Staying home except for essential outings such as groceries and vaccination appointments will certainly help stop the spread. Please limit contact to those in your household, wear a mask and maintain physical distancing anytime you are making that essential trip. This is a critical juncture in our community, and we must take this current situation very seriously to curb further spikes in case numbers, to prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed, to avoid further deaths and the long term health issues that could impact our family, friends and neighbours.

Adding further to their stress, many local businesses have closed their doors temporarily following this announcement. A closure means lost revenue for businesses that have already had a difficult year, and shows how much they care about the health and safety of their staff and our community. Similarly, the Municipality has suspended some services, although public parks will stay open to encourage individual exercise and dog walking.  Only online library services will be available until Monday, April 19 at The Meaford Public Library.  The opening of the Leaf and Yard Waste Depot and the first Household Hazardous Waste Day have been postponed until further direction from the Grey Bruce Health Unit.  For the most up-to-date information on our Municipal services, please visit www.meaford.ca/openandclosed.

Our community has shown great strength and resolve over the past year, and it is needed now more than ever. We are all plagued with COVID fatigue. It’s been a long road, and we are relying on each other right now to all pull in the same direction to keep our loved ones safe.   Please stay the course, follow the directives of the Health Unit, and when your opportunity comes, please get your vaccination.  With this, we will make it through this difficult and uncertain time. 

With heartfelt gratitude to all those frontline workers, businesses and individuals who do their part, I urge you to stay home, stay safe, and stay well everyone.

April 9, 2021

It’s hard to reconcile the high hopes we’ve had for warmer, sunnier days with dealing, yet again, with another Provincewide shutdown and Stay-at-Home Order. Thanks to the diligence of our residents who consistently comply with the public health protocols, Grey and Bruce Counties are experiencing the lowest rate of infection in the province, but in order to reach what is called “herd immunity” across the province, we, too, must follow provincial orders.  So once again, we are all being asked to limit travel to essential purposes, like getting groceries, attending medical appointments, and going to work. Otherwise, we are asked to stay home and to limit our contact to those within our households. These extraordinary circumstances are required to control the rapid advance of variants of the virus which is endangering the ability of our hospital system and first line workers to care for and protect our citizens. 

The good news is the vaccine roll-out continues aggressively with the “hockey hub” system working very smoothly. As of this week, the Grey Bruce Health Unit is booking vaccinations for those over 60 years old, or who are in the phase 2 priority group which includes those with high-risk chronic illnesses and their caregivers, and those who live and work in congregate settings. To find out if you are eligible or to book an appointment, please visit ontario.ca/bookvaccine. The vaccine is safe and effective, and, while voluntary, is a critical action we can all take to get back to normal.  I have heard of folks making a special occasion of getting their vaccination – it’s a different outing from grocery shopping, and is such a great attitude of celebration to help us feel we are doing our part for the health of our community.    

This shutdown also affects Municipal facilities which are now closed to the public, including the Administration Office, arena, museum, and community halls. Staff are continuing to operate essential services, and are working onsite and remotely to respond to inquiries and to keep the wheels in motion. We ask that you use online services at meaford.ca where possible, or use the drop box located beside the Administration Office door. Staff can be reached by phone at 519-538-1060 or by email to info@meaford.ca.

Although our recreation programs planned to begin in April have been postponed, the Spring weather continues to draw, socially distanced of course,  bikers, hikers, dog walkers and strollers outside to  enjoy the natural beauty of our area.  Remember the three “W’s” – Wash your hands, Wear a mask, and Watch your distance, and I know our resilient community will soldier on through this latest shutdown to come out stronger on the other side.

Stay well, everyone!

March 19, 2021

This was such an exciting and rewarding week with the first COVID-19 vaccines administered to over 400 of our senior residents over the age of 80 at the clinic set up in the Meaford and St. Vincent Community Centre.  This work was part of the 15,098 doses of the vaccine administered by the Health Unit throughout Grey Bruce. Dr. Arra, Medical Officer of Health, assures us that “no one will be left out” and another clinic the week of March 22, will catch up more of the over 80 priority group. Those who have a local physician will be contacted on behalf of the Health Unit for an appointment very soon. If you are over 80 but do not have a local doctor, you may register on-line at www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or you may also call at 1-833-943-3900. Also part of phase 1 priority population are those who are under 80 but are living in senior care, are receiving chronic home healthcare, or are who are First Nations people, and should contact the heath unit directly for an appointment at 519-376-9420 ext. 3000. By all accounts, our clinic ran smoothly and efficiently, and we are so grateful to all of the medical personnel and volunteers who assisted in coordinating the appointments.  We look forward to assisting with the next age group, 75 and over, in mid to late April.

As the warmer weather and the increasing number of vaccinations administered lift our spirits, please let’s not forget the rules to follow on this pathway out of the woods. As we are still in the Green – Prevent level of the Provincial framework, we must stick to the three W’s – Washing hands, wearing masks, and watching our distance from others. The Grey Bruce Health Unit asks that we continue to stay home as much as possible, and limit close contact to those in your household. While gatherings of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors for organized events are permitted, maintaining that physical distance and wearing a mask, especially when distancing is a challenge, is still an important protocol. Your commitment to following these guidelines has kept cases low in our area so far, and as talk of a third wave circulates, sticking to what we know works,  will help keep us in the green zone as we welcome Spring and the promised vaccines.

I appreciate everyone’s patience as we wait for vaccine distribution. The vaccines are safe and effective, and are an important tool to help stop the virus spread. This will allow individuals, families and workers to safely resume normal life. Let’s all welcome spring this weekend as we stay safe and enjoy the promised sunshine.

Stay well everyone.

-      Mayor Barb Clumpus

March 5, 2021

We are so happy to say the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is getting brighter now that Grey and Bruce Counties have moved back into the Green or “Prevent” level of the Provincial health safety Framework. But that is thanks to your diligence during the latest Provincewide Shutdown. Your continuing efforts to follow the guidelines from the Health Unit made this possible. Under the green banner, restaurants can now accommodate limited guests indoors, businesses can welcome shoppers, and we can connect personally with loved ones in our community as long as we continue to follow the three W’s – Wear a mask, Wash your hands, and Watch your distance. These three simple rules have kept our community transmission rates low, and likely saved lives. By sticking to what we know works, we can proceed safely through the vaccination roll out.

And that is the next exciting news to share:

The Grey Bruce Health Unit is setting up a vaccination clinic at the Meaford and St. Vincent Community Centre to distribute the vaccines in a phased approach. The first group is with our senior folks who are over 80 and who are patients of some of the doctors in Thornbury or Meaford. Beginning on Monday, March 8, these folks will receive a phone call on behalf of the clinics to schedule an appointment to receive the Pfizer vaccine on March 16 or 17. The Public Health Unit is not booking vaccine appointments, so they ask that you please be patient and wait for the call from the doctor’s office directly. If you don’t have a primary care provider, information will be available mid-March on how to book your vaccination appointment online. Other age groups will follow as quickly as possible.   

We strongly encourage you to accept the vaccination when your turn comes, not only to protect yourself and your loved ones, but especially those who may not be able to get vaccinated for medical reasons.

I am so proud of how cooperative, resilient and kind our community has been through the tough start to this year. Your patience, diligence and caring has made all the difference on this journey, and that has been acknowledge by the health unit by setting up this vaccination clinic close to home. I know this will continue as we move through to the final stretch of the pandemic.

Stay well everyone.

February 5, 2021

As the province’s Stay-at-Home order continues, we are starting to see the positive results in reduced numbers of new cases both provincially and locally.  As difficult as it is to be confined at home, it proves once again that our commitment to following the health unit’s protocols, is reducing the virus spread.  Thank you for your part in that.

Sadly, last weekend a gentleman in the Grey-Bruce Community passed away due to COVID-19 after being admitted to hospital in January. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones. This is a heartbreaking reminder that COVID-19 is still with us, and that we all must share the responsibility to halt the spread of the virus.  Our frontline health care workers are exhausting their own mental and physical health doing everything they can to keep us safe.  We must do everything we can to protect our loved ones and our community.  By staying the course we will make it through this second wave safely and emerge a stronger, more resilient community.

The Grey Bruce Public Health unit is focused on vaccine distribution in our area, and it has released the “Hockey Hub” mass immunization plan which will be used to deliver vaccines in 3 local arenas, efficiently, and with a streamlined flow-through process.  The plan is dependent, of course, upon receiving the expected supply of vaccines, but this model will come into play hopefully by mid-February. Stay tuned to the Grey Bruce Health Unit for updates as they become available.

We’re now into the dark, cold days of February, but the good news is the infection rates are dropping in Grey/Bruce, our kids are back in school, and Wiarton Willie predicts an early Spring!   I urge you all to take care of yourselves, mentally and physically. Find some fun in the sunny days outdoors, enjoy your hobbies, or try a new experience - perhaps with rented snowshoes from our library, and connect virtually with loved ones. Above all, continue to practice the 3 W’s – wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.

Stay well everyone! Stay home, stay safe, and save lives. 

January 22, 2021

As anticipated, the holidays did produce province-wide spikes in cases of Covid-19 so on January 14th, to curb the spread, the Province of Ontario declared a second State of Emergency and a Stay-at-Home Order. The turbulent and unwelcome state that COVID has thrust upon us, continues, but now it includes a more virulent, more highly contagious variation. As a result, there is a very real danger of our hospitals becoming overwhelmed and health care workers over extended. There is good news ahead, but we mustn’t become complacent at this time.   We know that by following the 3 Ws – Washing hands frequently, Watching our distance from other folks (ideally 6ft), and Wearing face coverings correctly, that we can protect ourselves, our families, and our community. The provincial order urges us to “stay safe, stay home, save lives,” and we can comply with that message by avoiding crowds and participating whenever possible, in outdoor activities in our neighbourhoods instead of indoor gatherings. 

Let me share with you some of the good news…

Grey Bruce Health Unit has begun the distribution of vaccines to our first priority, our most vulnerable folks and their caregivers in long-term care facilities. It will take time to immunize the general public in our area, but as more vaccines are distributed, the risk of community spread of the virus diminishes.

During this second provincewide shutdown, the business of the Municipality continues. Council meetings and public information sessions are held virtually, while our staff continue to deliver essential services. Just last week, Council passed the 2021 budget with a total property tax levy increase of 3.43% which also includes close to 2.5% of the operational budget for infrastructure projects.  This budget continues to provide the same annual services that are important to all residents within the Municipality of Meaford.

Public input into proposed projects and services is so welcome and important to our success. We encourage you to get involved, have your say, and influence project outcomes. Coming up on February 1st, there is a public meeting to discuss the proposed Interim Development Charges Study. We had a first virtual look at the long awaited Transportation Master Plan this past Wednesday, but there is still an opportunity to provide your input by visiting the Meaford.ca website and clicking on “Get Involved”.

Finally this week, and on a personal note, I have two announcements. First, we said goodbye to Bill and Barb McDonald as they retired from Bill’s ValuMart, with many, many thanks for their service and particularly, their tremendous support of our community. Second, there is an anonymous angel in our community who took the time over the holiday to write a very personal and touching note of thanks to several folks who work in public service. To me, this is representative of the spirited, kindhearted thoughtfulness of a very special community. Your very kind note is a treasured keepsake. Thank you.

Stay well everyone. Stay safe, stay home, and save lives.

January 8, 2021

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a safe and relaxing holiday season as we said goodbye to a very unusual and challenging year. Looking ahead to a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, there’s a welcome sense of hope that our renewed stores of resiliency will carry us through the coming months. The first COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Ontario, and a small shipment is expected in Grey-Bruce towards the end of January. So let’s continue wearing masks, washing our hands frequently, and watching our distance. This will ensure we reach the finish line with minimal impacts to the health and safety of our community. These simple rules have become second nature to us all, and have been proven effective. By sticking with them, we can look forward to spending next Christmas with our friends and families around the dinner table instead of around a zoom gathering on the computer.  

With the Provincewide Shutdown until January 23, our Municipal services have been adjusted to keep our staff and the public safe. The first Council meeting of the new year will be held virtually once again, with members of Council and staff logging in remotely. As usual the meeting will be livestreamed on Youtube. We welcome you to tune in, and stay informed as we discuss the 2021 Municipal budget, upcoming infrastructure projects, and planning matters. To see the agenda, please visit our Council portal at meaford.civicweb.net.

Our facilities and Administrative Office are closed to the public for the duration of the shutdown. A skeleton staff is onsite but most are working remotely to continue to offer services, respond to inquiries, and to work on upcoming projects. We will be holding Public Information Centres for infrastructure projects virtually for the time being to keep important work on our roads, bridges, parks, and water infrastructure moving forward. Appointments may be made with staff for urgent service requests, but we ask that you reach out to us online and by phone wherever possible to limit that risk. For more information on changes to our services visit meaford.ca/openandclosed, or give us a call at 519-538-1060.

As we make our way through the weeks and months to come, I know our community will continue to show the patience, kindness and caring that makes our community such a warm and welcoming place.

Stay well everyone!

December 11, 2020

This holiday season will be unlike any other, as it brings to a close one of the most unusual years we’ve ever seen. Although we may be missing the usual family gatherings, Christmas parties and celebrations, it will be a welcome time to pause; to take time to remember the special joy of past holidays, and to rebuild reserves of resiliency heading into the new year. 2020 has been, for many, a long and tiring year, bringing new worries and many challenges into our lives. It also showed us how strong and caring our community is. How steadfast we can be to keep our family and friends safe and well, and how creativity and determination can help us connect with loved ones, take care of our own health, and support our neighbours in the community.

The holiday season is a time to give thanks to all of those who make our community such a great place to live, work and play. I would like to thank all of the frontline workers who kept the doors open and lights on this year, the service clubs who supported the community and found new ways to keep us engage, the Meaford Food Bank and other organizations who support those in our community who need it most, and all those who touched our hearts with kindness. Thank you, too, to local businesses in our community who provide employment, services and products and bring vibrancy to our downtown core and countryside. This has been a hard year for local businesses, so as you finish up your holiday shopping, please stay local and support those who build our local economy.

While it is important to continue on with the protocols of washing hands, wearing masks, and watching our distance with folks, the Province and Health Unit have discouraged travel over the holidays, so we must once again find imaginative ways to have fun together. My family did virtual cookie baking over zoom last weekend, full of much laughter and holiday spirit. So stay connected, stay safe, be kind, and find the fun in whatever you do! From Meaford Council and staff, I wish holiday greetings to each and every one of you, and I hope the new year brings good health and restored prosperity to all.

Stay well, and Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Happy Holidays to all!

November 27, 2020

The second wave of COVID-19 has arrived in the province and, as expected, the number of cases are rising throughout Grey Bruce. The difference this time around, is that we are prepared, we know what to expect, and how to protect our loved ones by complying with the basic protocols that have kept us safe over these many months. Because of that diligence we were in the “green” or prevent community spread level of the COVID-19 recovery framework, which encouraged us to proceed with caution to open businesses and activities. On Friday, November 20th the province moved Grey-Bruce into the “Yellow” level of the framework which simply means we must protect what we have achieved. With new cases, sometimes over 10 a day, being reported all around us, now is the time to increase our vigilance and our efforts to keep ourselves, our families, and our community safe.

As we move into the cold, dark weather, and particularly as the holiday season approaches, the longing increases to stretch our social circles, to visit family, and enjoy time together indoors. Unfortunately, all around us the risk of these is higher than ever, and we need to stick to the practices that we know have been working – keeping physical distance of 2 meters, washing our hands, and wearing masks. It’s also important to stay home if you’re sick, avoid crowded places, and non-essential travel, particularly to places with higher transmission rates.

Special care must be taken around our high-risk family members and friends. By tracing the contacts of the new cases, the health unit is reporting that many of those involved have had close contact with elderly or immunocompromised individuals. Please, let’s continue to be mindful of our actions and take the necessary precautions to keep the most vulnerable among us safe. Let’s connect with loved ones through the technology available for virtual hugs, I know not nearly as satisfying as real ones, but this way we can limit the spread of this deadly virus.

By working together, being kind, letting all those frontline workers know how grateful we are for their service, and digging deep to find that sense of humour and creativity to sustain us, we can survive this wave as well. I believe in our community’s ability to do the right thing by following the health unit guidelines. I know we can do this.

Stay well everyone.

October 30, 2020

Halloween is here marking the end of a beautiful harvest season in Meaford, and signaling that we can expect snow on the ground any day now. As disappointing as it is to have another favourite Fall event affected by the pandemic, it is such fun to see front yards transformed into scary graveyards, and spooky entrances daring little costumed visitors to approach for their treats. 

We are now going on 8 months of feeling the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic in our community, and thankfully, we continue to see very low case numbers locally. Our collective efforts to follow the 3 W’s – washing hands, wearing masks, and watching your distance – has kept our community safe. After so long these measures are now second-nature, and I know we will keep them going through the winter months.   Paying attention to the directives of the Medical Officer of Health, including now getting your flu shot, is the best thing we can do to keep each other safe.

I have so appreciated the comments we’ve heard from those who connect with this regular message, so thank you for taking the time to join us as we reflect on the week just passed.  We seem to have settled in to a new normal now, so perhaps it is time for me to transition these messages to once every two weeks.  As we make every effort to stay in touch, and stay relevant, you may also see some new faces bringing in different topics to help keep you informed.

Folks in our community have also been checking in with the County, the Health Unit, and the provincial and federal governments to ask questions, and to get information straight from the sources you know you can trust, and I thank you for that. Some comfort can be found in being well informed and during these uncertain times, that has certainly helped to rally us all together for the common good of the whole Municipality.

I wish you and your families a safe and spooky Halloween weekend, however you plan to celebrate this year.

Stay well, everyone.   We’ll see you again in two weeks.

October 23, 2020

World food day was this past week, and it got me thinking about how important food is in our lives. From health and wellness, to economics, and social influences, food security is the underpinning that connects us all. Thanksgiving weekend is one time we really think about the trail from farmers’ fields to grocery stores, restaurants to food banks, and the role food plays in bringing family and friends together to celebrate, and to support each other when illness or tragedy strikes. Each year we celebrate and welcome the harvest bounty, and the continuity of this annual ritual of exploring the great local food sources we have here has helped us through the still uncertain situation caused by the pandemic.

Meaford is known far and wide for the apple production that once suggested we were “the apple capital of Ontario”, and it is exciting to see that industry still growing here.  In addition, there are many other great fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy products being produced right here at home. Farmers and the food supply chain are a fundamental part of our economy, and it is important to recognize the agricultural community for providing this essential service to our municipality. Grocery and farm gate stores are the distribution points to the public and have met the challenges of that responsibility with extra care and precautions throughout the pandemic.  Our gratitude and virtual hugs to all the heroes who serve us in that capacity.

The struggle to keep our restaurant’s doors open and their staff employed has been helped by expanding to patios and offering take-out menus. Every Wednesday is Canada’s Take-Out day, so this coming week, I’ll make a point of ordering-in our favourite dinner from a local restaurant. Supporting a local business while enjoying a great meal makes the experience so much more enjoyable.

The Meaford Food Bank and Outreach, formerly known as Golden Town Outreach, has ramped up their operations because of the increase in need. In response to COVID-19 protocols they are now serving their clients by appointment only. Local Chef, Gilles Haché, and his remarkable team of volunteers have delivered thousands of hearty meals he has prepared to those in isolation, showing amazing love and support in our community. A plain “Thank you” seems so inadequate for all that outstanding hard work and generosity that brings such warmth, kindness and caring to many in these troubled times.

I am so thankful for the bounty of great food we enjoy, and so proud of the friendly and supportive community we live in.

Eat well and stay well, everyone!

October 16, 2020

We are seeing only a small increase in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, but enough to remind us that we are not out of the woods yet, and the need continues for all of us to adapt and be flexible. Perhaps we aren’t able to do the same things we did before COVID-19, at least not in the same ways, but I’m so impressed to learn about the creative ways folks have found to enjoy your hobbies and spend time with loved ones, while still following the recommendations from the Grey Bruce Health Unit.

The Municipality must be flexible too, as we carry on with business.  And this time of year, an important piece of work is the annual Public Engagement Budget Session coming up at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 28th. Usually we hold this session at Woodford Hall in the heart of Meaford’s countryside, but this year the session will be at Meaford Hall where we can accommodate the full 50 person capacity while physical distancing. This will also allow us to livestream the session as we do with our regular Council meetings. I want to thank everyone who completed the budget survey. We have received 500 responses this year, and they will be reviewed by Council to help us make our decisions. You can also take part by sending us your questions on the budget to budgets@meaford.ca, where they will be compiled and posted on our website at meaford.ca/budget2021.

Halloween is such a fun time for our youngsters – and our not-so-young as well. Costumes have been imagined since school reconvened, and it is enjoyable to welcome the little ones at the door. It hasn’t been cancelled in our area, but the Grey Bruce Health Unit has provided some recommendations to prevent virus spread while still enjoying the festivities. Consider hosting an outdoor party with spooky treats instead of going door-to-door, or organize a scavenger hunt! A good suggestion is to leave your booty untouched for 24 hours after coming home, and washing your hands or bringing hand sanitizer with you. Choose a costume that incorporates your mask, and if you do put out candy, consider setting up a table in your driveway and portioning treats out beforehand to keep that 2 metre distance.

As long as we stay flexible and open to change, we’ll continue to find creative ways to celebrate, to collaborate, and to move our community forward while staying healthy and safe.

Stay well everyone, and happy Halloween!

October 9, 2020

Thanksgiving weekend is my favourite holiday of the year – with colour exploding all around us, still a hint of summer warmth and the smells of the apple harvest, turkey roasting, and fresh, crisp autumn air.  Memories rush in of large family gatherings, walks in the woods, and sharing with loved ones, our gratitude for all that we have.  This year has been very challenging for us all, and I, like many of you, hoped that once the first wave of the pandemic was behind us, we would be able to share the holiday with our extended families. Unfortunately the second wave is in full swing, and we are urged to celebrate this Fall tradition with only our immediate household.   The turkey may be smaller, there will be fewer faces around the dining room table, but we still have so much to be thankful for as we reflect on what has been for many, a very difficult year.

I am so grateful for our community’s caring, resiliency and kindness as we weather the impacts of COVID-19. We have seen very low case numbers, and for that I thank you. Diligently washing hands, wearing masks, and practicing social distancing has controlled community spread of the virus. You have taken the recommendations of healthcare professionals seriously, and kept the vulnerable members of our community safe.  Respecting the mask wearing order as you visit our local businesses has helped them on their road to recovery.   This is a great example of everyone pulling together as a team, and I’m so proud of the way our community has stepped up to this challenge.

As we think about what this occasion really means, lets remember our essential service and healthcare workers, many of whom have put themselves at risk to provide the services we need, and who have adapted so well to the changing health and safety requirements. Not all heroes wear capes, and we have so many heroes walking among us this year.

I am also, as always, so grateful for my family – my husband, children and grandchildren who bring me so much love and joy. As you celebrate this weekend in your own creative way, I hope the memories of past Thanksgivings emerge and you add to them, the heartwarming spots that have helped you and your family endure this unusual year.

Happy thanksgiving! Stay well everyone. 

October 2, 2020

This will be an unusually quiet first weekend of October here in Meaford. In pre-Covid times, scarecrows would be hanging from lamp posts, decorating public spaces, and storefronts.  The Scarecrow Invasion Family Festival would get underway and carloads of tourists would be headed to the arena and curling club for the annual  Apple Harvest Craft Show.  It is still an exciting place to visit this weekend,  for scarecrow displays are popping up on lawns and in window-fronts, and the landscape of our community showcases the beauty of the fall colours against the backdrop of scenic Georgian Bay. The spirit of the harvest season is still with us, as we navigate the second wave of this global pandemic.

Following on the heels of the first wave of COVID-19, we now know what works to keep our families and our community safe. We have spent the spring and summer this year physical distancing, washing hands, limiting social gatherings, and wearing masks. We have adapted how we shop, how we socialize, and how we work. The local business community has stepped up to adjust their services, and we’ve found new ways to stay busy and connected with loved ones. It is critical that we continue these skills and practices that have worked so well over the year as this second wave continues. The recent spike in cases locally from an unmonitored social gathering proves what we have known all along; that following the rules is the best way to prevent the virus from spreading further, ensuring the most vulnerable in our community are protected.

In the Grey/Bruce area the COVID-19 Assessment Centres have seen an influx of requests for testing. With cold and flu season upon us and kids back at school, recognizing the difference between normal colds or allergies and potential Covid symptoms can be confusing. Grey Bruce Health services are now offering appointments that can be booked online or by phone for COVID tests, and have expanded their hours to include this weekend. They have asked that you only book a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms of fever, cough, a recent loss of taste or smell or shortness of breath, or if you require a test in order to visit a long-term care facility or retirement home. A reminder; that if you aren’t able to make your appointment, please cancel it so they can book another patient. It’s so important that we use the Assessment Centres as efficiently as possible to reduce wait times and ensure access for those who need it. For more information or to book an appointment, visit www.gbhs.on.ca.

It is worrying when we see new cases in our community and rising numbers across the province. We are fortunate to have such a good track record so far of following the directives of the health unit, so I encourage everyone to “stay calm and carry on” as we have been for most of the year to get us through this second wave. The Municipality of Meaford is a resilient community, and we will continue to support each other through the pandemic, and beyond.

Stay well, everyone.

September 25, 2020

The second wave of COVID has hit us, with new cases being seen in our community and the surrounding Grey/Bruce area. We expected this possibility as students returned to school and stage 3 of recovery settled in, so now we must respond in the way we know will reduce the spread of the virus. Wearing masks, frequent handwashing, and staying within our limited social bubbles is necessary to protect our most vulnerable folks, our residents and our staff.  

Last weekend, the Ontario government announced a drop in attendance limits for unmonitored gatherings from 50 to 10 indoors and 100 to 25 outdoors. We had just begun in-person Council meetings at Meaford Hall and those will continue as will supervised events where masks, contact tracing, and physical distancing protocols are in place. Our Municipal Law Enforcement Officers will also continue to patrol our parks and green spaces to seek compliance with the health unit’s protocols. The social life of backyard BBQ’s, family gatherings, dinners with friends, and wedding receptions have all taken a different format this summer, and we have learned to stay in touch with loved ones in creative ways.   I believe our community will continue to make these good choices, complying with the Ministry of Health recommendations for the health and safety of all.

On a happy note, the Meaford Public Library will be making the move to their new fully accessible location at 11 Sykes Street the week of October 19th, with a target of opening the doors to the public on Monday, October 26th. Congratulations to the Friends of the Library Fundraising Committee which has surpassed their goal and raised an incredible $780,000 from the community towards this project. Thank you so much to the volunteers and all the donors, large and small, who have generously supported our Library and its hardworking staff.

We are becoming accustomed to adapting to the changes around us, and through this learning, we become a stronger and more resilient community. Working together we will find creative ways to respond to the new challenges of this ever-changing pandemic landscape to protect the most vulnerable in our community, to keep our families, friends and frontline workers safe and healthy. 

Stay well, everyone.

September 18, 2020

As the summer season slips away displaying more brilliant colours, with the scent of apples in the air and a cool, crisp hint of what’s to come, this was the time to think about the family and community traditions that have always been such a part of the excitement of Fall. There are so many questions still in the air, and with another spike in Covid cases across the province we wonder if we will be trick-or-treating this Halloween, or bringing the extended family together for Thanksgiving. While many things are still unknown, what we do know is that our best chances of getting back to the pre-COVID normal and keeping our community safe, is to wash our hands, wear masks, and practice physical distancing. We must be ready to adapt to changing conditions, and to follow the directions of the Public Health Unit as they adjust to our community’s needs.

This also is the time for your Council and staff to begin the 2021 Municipal budget process. Staff in each department have already begun the painstaking job of determining how the annual increase to fixed costs could be met, and now Council must decide how your property tax dollars are spent. At our meeting on September 14th, we provided direction to staff through the Budget Framework to include in the draft budget a 1% increase each for roads, bridges, and a staff cost of living adjustment, as well as a .5% increase for facilities. No enhancements to the budget from staff are proposed, except to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, and we will consider using any new revenue from assessment growth to offset property tax increases. Your feedback is essential to this budget process, so that the tough decisions Council must make will be based on the priorities of our community. You can take our online survey to share your thoughts by visiting www.meaford.ca/budget2021, and joining us at a public engagement session at Woodford Hall at 6:30 p.m. on October 28th. I encourage you to get involved - have your say on how your tax dollars are spent.

It is safe to say that our pandemic experience is not over yet; but we have learned how to adapt, how to stay in touch with loved ones, how to make the best of this situation!  Armed with the resiliency, the adaptability and perserverance this experience has produced I know that together, we can weather whatever the future brings. In the meantime, I urge you to take the time to enjoy the present, to take good care of your physical and mental health, and each other. A brisk walk or hike in the crisp air and sunshine, a visit to local shops, the museum, the Farmer’s market – all beckon us to enjoy this season of plenty. Remember your masks, handwashing, keeping your distance while you offer a friendly wave to neighbours, and to our so important front-line workers. 

Stay well, everyone.

September 11, 2020

For many – including me – Labour Day has marked the start of a new year – full of the energy the cooler temperatures bring and the excitement of perhaps starting something new.  This has been a short but hectic week with students of all ages heading back to the classroom, some in person and some online. It has certainly been a first week of school like no other, as we adjust to the changes and work out the kinks that come with them. But I hope all parents did feel some of their students’ excitement of reconnecting with friends, teachers and staff who are determined to do everything they can to keep our children safe and to provide a smooth return to the next chapter of our new normal.

Your Council is getting back into the swing of things as well – after our usual August shutdown, Council meetings are restarting on Monday, September 14th and will now be held in person once again. We’ve changed locations though from the Council chambers on 7th Line to Meaford Hall, which will allow for the necessary physical distancing while still meeting our technological requirements. Members of the public are welcome to attend our Council meetings in person, with a few procedural changes for contact tracing, and health and safety. We encourage you to engage in the business of the Municipality. To see agendas and minutes of upcoming meetings and for more information on how to take part, please visit Meaford.civicweb.net.

Although the number of cases locally remains low, across Ontario there has been an uptick in confirmed cases of COVID-19. As we head further into the fall season and the school year, we are once again entering uncertain territory and it is more important than ever to maintain the protocols that have kept us safe so far.  The Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Arra, has extended the order recommending masks in indoor public places. Please continue to wash hands frequently, keep the 2m distance from those outside your social circle and wear masks when this is a challenge.  And let’s not forget a friendly wave, a message of thanks, a smile of gratitude behind our masks to all the front-line workers, including teachers, who play such an important role in our health and safety. 

Be kind and stay well, everyone.

September 4, 2020

Fall is such a beautiful time here in our municipality. As summer comes to an end, bringing the brisk air and the reds and oranges of autumn across our rolling countryside, Meaford comes alive. Although we won’t be seeing the traditional creative scarecrows hanging from lamp posts or welcoming visitors on Station Hill park this year, you may find the odd one popping up on front lawns anxiously waiting for the party to resume next year.  The first of the apple harvests together with farmer’s fresh produce and markets abound and that fresh cooler air encourages us to get out to enjoy all our community has to offer. There are so many ways to enjoy the season while continuing to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community. With school starting, many are worried that we may see another spike in cases, so it is more important than ever to continue to wash our hands frequently, practice social distancing, and wear masks inside buildings and when keeping our distance is a challenge.  Even though we have seen relatively few cases in our community, these protocols are what have kept us safe so far.

The start of September also means that traffic will be picking up along our streets in the mornings and afternoons as children make their way to and from school. Keeping our children safe is everyone’s responsibility, and we encourage drivers to obey the rules of the road. Crossing Guards will be at their posts and will be wearing masks this year. Please give them a wave to thank them and follow their directions as they work to protect our young people. It’s important that all drivers follow the speed limit, keep an eye out for student walkers, make complete stops at intersections, and follow no parking and no stopping signs that keep traffic flowing. Just like we have been doing throughout the pandemic, following the rules and working together will help keep our community safe.

As we enter the fall season, take time to visit the farmer’s markets, go for a hike to see the fall colours, and enjoy the bounty our corner of the world has to offer.

Stay well everyone.

August 28, 2020

With schools opening once again very soon, parents have much more on their minds than back-to-school shopping this year. They’re concerned about the health and safety of their children, and are facing very difficult decisions about attending school, online learning, and making childcare and transportation arrangements. COVID-19 has complicated an already busy time of year, and added new worries and considerations to the first day of school. Parents are tasked with weighing the benefits and risks of the options, and there is no one right answer – every decision will be unique to your family.

It is important to remember that we have done very well here in Meaford, and across Grey/Bruce counties, at limiting the spread of COVID-19. While the disease poses serious risks for the elderly and immune-compromised, if infected, children tend to get a very mild illness and recover well. Although these facts are comforting, the risk is still there and must be balanced with the mental, social, and educational wellbeing of the young people in our community. As schools reopen, the situation may continue to evolve, but we are prepared and ready to adapt. It’s important to stay informed by watching for updated information from the School Boards and Grey Bruce Health Unit, and continuing to adjust our lifestyles as necessary.

As summer draws to a close, let’s draw strength from each other knowing that following the all-important protocols of social distancing, perhaps reducing our personal bubbles of social contact, washing hands and wearing masks will help navigate this next stage.

I wish all of the students in our community all the best in the coming school year, no matter what it looks like. The past 5 months have been full of challenges, and we have all grown and learned new things in this unprecedented situation. I know parents and teachers will continue to make the right decisions to support Meaford’s youth both in and out of the classroom.

Stay well everyone.

August 21, 2020

Caremongering – this distinctive word has popped up in the wake of COVID-19 to describe the remarkable acts of kindness and caring that emerged in this difficult year. As Mr. Rogers once said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping” – and find them we have! The Meaford community is a caring and supportive place year-over-year, and that has shone through the uncertain circumstances of 2020. By following the recommendations of the Grey Bruce Health Unit – washing our hands, wearing masks, and sticking to our social circles – we have all been ‘helpers’ this year, but the efforts of some go above and beyond to support the needs in our community.

Each year, we hold a thank-you dinner for the hundreds of volunteers who work hard to make the Municipality of Meaford a great place to live. From sports team organizers, service clubs and scarecrow builders, to community gardeners and dinner volunteers, and litter cleaners, this event brings together the many people who show they care about our community. Sadly, the dinner was cancelled this year due to COVID, but I want all of those who contribute their time and skills every year to know how much we appreciate their efforts to make Meaford a richer, more beautiful, and more welcoming community.

A silver lining to these troubling and unusual times is seeing the evidence of kindness and care spreading throughout our community. Groceries have been delivered to those in quarantine, meals were dropped off to housebound seniors, and welcome contributions made to the food bank and hospital. Painted rocks popped up in unlikely places to draw a smile, and quilters sewed masks for friends and neighbours. Firefighters drove by children’s homes as a birthday treat, and signs for frontline workers, and our 2020 graduates appeared in windows and on front lawns. In these ways and so many others, our residents have demonstrated their support for their neighbours.

Communities that take care of one another are resilient. We have lifted each other up during a worldwide pandemic, and I know we will continue with the phone calls to shut-ins, the friendly waves as we meet on the trails, the patience and understanding as we wait for our turn – all to help keep up a positive frame of mind. I am so proud to call this kindhearted and thoughtful community home.  Thank you to each of you for continuing to follow the protocols to keep each other safe as recovery moves forward.

Stay well everyone.

August 14, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it many changes, and with change comes a sense of uncertainty. An extended time away from school has many children excited about getting back to the school days they remember and reconnecting with their friends, but their parents are beginning to think about how this will work in September as the new school year begins. So much is still unknown, and there is a feeling of anxiety in the air. What we do know is that our community is strong and resilient – your friends and neighbours have been doing what they need to do to contain the virus spread by washing hands, wearing masks, and sticking to their limited social groups. We know these measures work, and although the return to school presents a new challenge, I also know our parents, teachers, and staff are working hard to find creative ways to keep our children safe.

A more welcome change you may have noticed is the restoration work underway at Fred Raper Park. This park experienced extensive damage from a combination of high water levels in Georgian Bay this year and strong North winds that deposited sand, stone and debris across the park. With more than 20 truckloads of debris being removed this week, the waterfront along Fred Raper Park will be accessible by the end of the day today. While the playground equipment is still unsafe for use, I’m sure the beach and popular waterfront will welcome many visitors this weekend.

Since the start of the month, the Meaford Public Library and Meaford Museum have once again opened their doors to the public. By all accounts, these favourite family stops have been well-visited since reopening, and the staff are ready and excited to serve their regular visitors once again. We would like to thank all of the library and museum patrons for following the new protocols, and being so patient, kind, and generous as they enjoy our adjusted services.

With only a few weeks of summer left, let’s take full advantage of the warm weather, the beauty of our area, and the peace of mind the natural world can offer. Fall will undoubtedly bring with it more change, and I hope you will continue to take good care of yourself, both physically and mentally, as these new challenges approach.

Stay well everyone.

August 7, 2020

The hot, sunny days of mid-summer have returned, after a weekend of much needed rain.   These are the days we’ll remember as the cold winds of winter begin to blow.  It’s exciting to see all of the activity in our parks and trails, in the refreshing, clear water of Georgian Bay, on our beaches, and visiting the downtown core.  It’s good to see folks getting outside and exploring our community; it’s even better to see them doing it safely, in their social groups, wearing masks and keeping the necessary distance from each other. This, coupled with regular handwashing and doing everything we can to stay healthy will contain the spread of COVID-19 and hopefully avoid a second wave.  It is our responsibility to keep our families, friends and those critical, front-line workers, safe.

Another tool has been added to our arsenal to protect our community – the COVID Alert app. This app for smart phones is designed to let people know about possible exposure to the virus before any symptoms appear. It uses Bluetooth to exchange random codes with nearby devices, and will notify you if you’ve been in close proximity in the last 14 days to anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19. It doesn’t track your location, personal information, or health information but it will help break up the cycle of infection. Of course the more people who use the app, the more accurate and helpful it will be. I encourage you to use this tool - you can find the app in your device’s app store, or find more information on the Government of Canada website.

I hear from folks frequently how lucky we are to live here in this special corner of the world in Canada which has a robust public healthcare system, and federal and provincial governments that have taken action to protect the health of all Canadians. Our community has diligently followed the advice of health professionals since the start, and it shows in the low case numbers we’ve seen locally. With our collective commitment and the resources and technology available to us, we will continue to keep our families, friends, and neighbours safe while we move through the stages of recovery. Thank you to all of you for staying strong.   I’m so proud of the way our caring and resilient community has responded to this situation.  We are all in this together, and together we’ll create a sustainable future shaped by our experience.

Stay well everyone.

July 31, 2020

We’re approaching the beginning of August; the cold nights of winter are a distant memory in the heat and sunshine on the shores of Georgian Bay.  The waterfront calls to us on the hottest days, and many locals and visitors have been flocking to the beaches across our community for the cool breezes and even cooler water.

Whether you’re hiking, biking, kayaking, sailing, or relaxing on a floaty or lawn chair this long weekend, please remember to keep following the same practices of physical distancing from those outside your household or social circle, frequent handwashing, and wearing masks when physical distancing is a challenge. The beautiful weather and the provincial recovery plan with the opening of stage 3, has lifted our spirits. It is true we can be proud of the low statistics of community spread, our protected seniors’ population, and particularly no deaths from the virus, but that is because of the careful attention you pay to the health unit’s protocols.  However, there have been 4 new cases of COVID-19 in our area over the last 2 weeks, confirming that the virus is still lurking and that continued caution is needed.

Traffic has picked up and local businesses are buzzing again. From restaurants, to shopping, to farm-stand markets, our local entrepreneurs have spent the last four months turning lemons into lemonade. They’ve been working hard to find new ways of delivering goods and services, complying with emerging health and safety regulations, and providing excellent service to their customers during these difficult times. Local business owners support community fundraising, youth sports teams, and each other, so every dollar you spend has the most impact closest to home. Remember to treat those that serve you with kindness and respect as they enforce health unit orders.

I can’t say it enough, thank you everyone who has stepped up to continue to do what is necessary to keep our families and friends safe. A huge virtual hug to our frontline workers, those we depend upon to provide health care, municipal and personal services. We are strong, we care about our neighbours, and together, we will continue the momentum of our progress so far to carry us through to recovery.

Stay well everyone.

July 24, 2020

As we settle in to Stage 3 of the provincial recovery plan, some things are getting back to normal while others are still looking a little different. We’ve certainly come a long way from the beginning of our pandemic experience way back in March, but we are not out of the woods yet, the virus is still lurking and to avoid a setback, precautions like wearing face coverings in enclosed spaces must still be in place. Some Municipal services will be back online in the coming weeks, and while they won’t be quite the same, we are all looking forward to revisiting some of the opportunities for fun that have been put on hold.

As of next Thursday, July 30th, the Meaford museum will reopen its doors to allow you to share and explore our history in the making. Exhibits display our local and Canadian history including farming, our rural culture and our connection to military history.  In keeping with safety protocols, we ask that you enjoy these exhibits “hands free”, follow the directional arrows and of course, wear masks and practice physical distancing. There is still so much to see and learn about our fascinating local history. And who knows? Maybe museums of the future will feature exhibits on the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic.

Taking advantage of the 24/7 Virtual Library to access e-books, movies and more, as well as curbside pickup has helped many fill the long days, but regulars and visitors will once again be able to enjoy picking hardcopy books in person as the Meaford Public Library reopens to the public as of Tuesday, August 4.  Again, please remember to wear a mask and practice physical distancing and handwashing to keep patrons and staff safe.

Our facilities are reopening as safely and cautiously as possible, but there are areas where this is impossible.  One of these is the popular splash pad that is operated by a common touch button and uses our drinking water which cannot be chlorinated sufficiently to protect our children.

We appreciate everyone’s patience as we get these facilities up and running.  Please continue to follow all recommended precautions and treat everyone with kindness and respect – we just don’t know if someone we meet is having a tough time coping with this situation. It is the caring and thoughtfulness of our community that has brought us through the worst of the pandemic, and our resilience and compliance with health unit protocols that will carry us through the months to come.

Stay well everyone.

July 17, 2020

Today is a big day for our community as the Province is allowing us to move to stage 3 of their reopening plan, loosening more restrictions on services, businesses, and social gatherings. Here in Grey Bruce this stage also comes with a direction from the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Arra, to wear masks in all indoor public settings and to be ever mindful of keeping social distance of 2 meters. While it may seem to some like two steps forward and one step back, when you look at how far we’ve come from the self-isolation we’ve practiced over the last few months to help get us through this pandemic, masks are a very small inconvenience but so very important to keep you and our community as safe as possible. Businesses must encourage shoppers to wear masks as of today, and to interact with others from a safe distance to stop airborne virus transmission. Show you care – Wear a mask.

I am pleased to announce that as part of stage 3, playground equipment is open for use once again in our parks, except for the ones at Fred Raper Park which is still closed, and unfortunately the favourite splash pad which cannot be cleaned and monitored effectively. While your family enjoys our parks and playgrounds, please continue to practice social distancing, and to wash hands before and after play. Stage 3 also allows us to reopen other municipal facilities to visitors or rentals, and as always we will be focused on doing this responsibly, ensuring that the health, safety and cleaning procedures required by Public Health are in place. We appreciate your patience as we work to continue to protect you, our staff, and our community. To stay up-to-date on what facilities and amenities are open now, visit meaford.ca/openandclosed.

Once again, on behalf of a grateful community, thank you to all of the frontline workers who have provided exceptional service in extraordinary times. From healthcare workers to grocery store staff, to farmers and small business owners, this situation has certainly demonstrated that no man is an island. We rely on one another in many different ways to get through the day, and our community has shown such overwhelming commitment to doing the right thing, to acting in solidarity against a threat we cannot see. Thank you for working together not just for yourselves, but for the good of our whole community.

Stay well everyone. 

July 10, 2020

With the full heat of summer upon us, we’ve now been living with the effects of COVID-19 in our community for 4 months. We’ve been through the initial shutdown, the virus peak, and the gradual steps towards recovery. We’ve had a very low number of cases of the virus locally, and that’s because your determination to wash your hands, practice social distancing, and to stay home as much as possible was effective to keep our families, friends, and neighbours safe. As the hot weather tempts us to the beach and cool Georgian Bay, to the patios and reopening businesses and services, we need to continue to be mindful, to listen to health experts, and to do what we need to do to protect ourselves, our families, and our community. 

This week Dr. Arra, the medical officer of health for Grey Bruce, announced that soon masks will be required in all indoor public settings. Wearing a mask is not something you do to protect yourself – it helps prevent others from coming into contact with your respiratory droplets when you talk, cough, or sneeze. If you are sick but not having any symptoms, a mask prevents you from spreading possible germs to others. This caring and consideration is what our community - and our country - are known for, and I know that we will continue in this way to show the civic pride in our community, and that we care deeply about our fellow man.

After 4 long months of restrictions it can be easy to slip up on the protocols, to lower our guard, and try to get back to life as we knew it before Covid. For some, these months of uncertainty have challenged our stress levels, our patience and our mental health. I urge us all to remember why we’re doing this – to protect our loved ones and everyone we come in contact with from an invisible threat. Visitors coming to our neighbourhood notice the welcoming and friendly feel, and it’s this caring and consideration for others that will continue to keep our community healthy. Wear a mask, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and keep gatherings to groups of 10 – you know the drill! Let’s raise the bar on being patient, being kind, and being civil and respectful of each other and public property – in other words, let’s continue to wave that white & red Maple Leaf flag that shouts "this is who we are:  we’re Canadian”. 

Have a great week, everyone, and please stay safe.

July 3, 2020

As the province settles into phase 2 of recovery, with phase 3 in the works to follow, our world is looking and feeling a little more familiar. The options for how we spend our time and who we spend it with are slowly expanding, with the necessary precautions in place. As our world gets a little bigger once again, it’s important to remember to do what we need to do to protect ourselves and our community.  We know how easy it is to slip into “covid fatigue” but it’s equally important to be patient, to show perhaps extra kindness and caring, as our friends, neighbours, and businesses adjust.

The administrative office will be open on Monday, and this weekend will see the reopening of Memorial Park with Meaford Harbour to follow for a shortened summer season. Both of these beautiful waterfront attractions are favourites for locals and we welcome respectful visitors who pay attention to the safety guidelines and procedures we have implemented to keep our staff, patrons, and community safe. Physical distancing of 2 meters and group gatherings of less than 10 continue to be enforced, and as always wearing a mask is helpful, as is washing your hands frequently.

The same applies as you visit our local businesses. With patios popping up along Sykes street, online ordering for the Meaford Farmer’s Market, and curbside pickup or shopping by appointment at many locations, they are doing their best to serve you and to stay afloat during these difficult times. Many of Meaford’s businesses rely on tourists during the summer and fall, so this year they need the support of the local community even more to make it through. If we all stick together and follow the recommended safety practices, as we have been, we can rediscover our community without seeing a spike in virus spread.

I hope everyone had a happy Canada Day celebrating in your own special way in great weather, and the charm our municipality has to offer. I am so proud of the way our community has responded to this highly unusual situation we are in, and especially of the care and support shown to our frontline workers, to those who are doing their very best to protect us, to our vulnerable residents and neighbours.  This is a strong indication of the values and commitment that makes the Municipality of Meaford such a special place.   I know as our community moves forward, we will emerge even stronger and more resilient than ever. 

Stay safe everyone.

June 26, 2020

Canada Day 2020 is truly unlike any other. We will miss the traditional annual celebrations in Meaford, Bognor, and Annan, the mass singing of Oh Canada, the fireworks that light up the night sky. This year of unprecedented change, has brought into sharp focus how much we have to celebrate as Canadians, and perhaps, how much we have taken for granted in the past.

A celebration is in order for the many ways we have changed and grown over the last year. We have adapted to new and uncertain circumstances. Our first responders, governments and public health units have been extraordinary in their response to this pandemic. You’ve risen to the challenge by taking the situation very seriously. You continue to comply with health unit protocols to keep our community as safe as it is, and you’ve come together to take care of each other. As we begin the long process towards recovery, let’s remember and be grateful for the incredible effort that was so necessary – and so relatively successful in our area - and the lessons learned about what is really important in our lives.

Although we won’t be getting together for the popular car show, live music, family games and fireworks this year, here’s an idea to show community spirit: Dig out the Christmas lights for the front door, wear red and white as you bike, hike and enjoy the parks and trails that make Meaford so special.

And you may notice some changes in downtown Meaford as restaurant patios pop up along Sykes Street. Partnering with the Meaford business community as they work through provincial restrictions, we’re now able to enjoy a meal and a drink in the sunshine, just a block from our beautiful waterfront – and just in time to celebrate our community and to support our economy in honour of Canada Day.

We have so many things to be grateful for. As we join with Canadians of every culture on July 1, let us say a heartfelt thank you for the democracy that protects our safety, and freedoms from coast to coast to coast. Let’s truly appreciate our beautiful natural surroundings, our peaceable way of life, and our caring community – especially all those who risked their own safety to serve their community and their country.

Let’s celebrate how far we’ve come, and the bright future that lies ahead. Whatever you do to mark this special occasion, please stay safe. Happy Canada Day everyone!


June 19, 2020

Patience, flexibility, creativity and kindness in abundance has helped us navigate these unprecedented times, and yet to find so much to celebrate including the natural beauty of our community, the thoughtfulness of friends and neighbours, and the robust healthcare system that has guided us along the COVID-19 pandemic trail and is carrying us through to recovery. Many birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and religious ceremonies were put on hold over the last three months, and now, with restrictions lifting, you may feel like you have some catching up to do.

A good way to start is to join in with homes across Grey County on June 24th to congratulate the many graduates who are celebrating their achievements virtually at home this year. Whether its kindergarten, grade 8, high school, University or College, these bright young minds will shape our community and lead our future – certainly something worth celebrating. You can print window signs, decorate your home, or make some noise at 7:00 p.m. next Wednesday, to show your support for the youth in our community. For more information visit www.grey.ca.

As you plan your celebrations over the summer, please remember that there is still a risk of COVID-19 transmission, and there are precautions you can take. Try to keep get-togethers small, and create a social circle of 5-10 people, who interact with each other exclusively, for social gatherings. And plan to hold these outdoors. Not only can you interact with nature, but there’s more room for physical distancing. Consider having guests bring their own food and drink to minimize sharing, and wear cloth masks anytime physical distancing is a challenge. By following these guidelines from the Public Health unit, celebrating with families and friends can happen while you’re continuing to stay safe.

Social gatherings help us connect with our family, friends and community and are so important in supporting our mental health and wellbeing. Please stay safe as our community reopens, continue to practice physical distancing, wash your hands, and wear cloth masks when you can. Be creative, and keep using technology to bridge the gap, and please, take good care of yourself and your loved ones.

Congratulations to all our 2020 grads, and a special warm Fathers’ Day greeting to all the Dads in our community who play such an important role in that journey to graduation.

Stay well, everyone.

June 12, 2020

As the province continues to reopen, the effects of COVID-19 are felt in our everyday lives, and they’re shaping how our community moves forward. Each stage of reopening comes with a welcome list of services that can get back online, and along with that, the necessary precautions and cleaning procedures that must still be in place to operate safely. Our municipality and local businesses will follow these new rules, to protect customers, our residents, and staff while we explore new and creative ways to serve our community.

The Meaford Farmers’ Market is a great example of how initiative from the agricultural community has met, head on, the challenges of small gatherings and social distancing. They will offer fresh, farm-to-table food  - with a twist this summer. You can now order and pay online for goods from individual Farmers’ Market vendors, and pick them up each Friday from 3 – 7:00 p.m. at the Market Square next to Meaford Hall.  Not only do you enjoy healthy food products and specialty items, you support our local farming community, while complying with the critical safety protocols necessary to reduce community spread of the virus.  I encourage you to visit www.meafordfarmersmarket.ca.  To make a purchase for next Friday’s pickup.

Another creative example is a partnership between the Municipality and the Meaford Chamber of Commerce to provide an eCommerce Assistance Grant to help retail businesses in our community establish an online presence. The Municipality is offering a matching grant of $500 to help with the cost of building your online shopping connection. For more information or to apply for this grant, please visit www.meafordchamber.ca.

It is wonderful to see the very real examples of community support - of inventive partnerships and initiatives from front-line workers, from volunteers delivering meals, from neighbours helping neighbours, and from everyone taking care to find creative solutions to these unforeseen challenges. As reopening continues, carefully, I urge you to connect with our local businesses - find out first-hand how they’re working to serve you better.

Stay well, everyone.

June 5, 2020

June is Recreation and Parks month, and the beautiful weather we’ve been having inspires us all to get out, get active, and to enjoy the many natural wonders of our community. Although the Municipality can’t offer our usual Parks and Rec month programs, we can still help you find fun and safe ways to enjoy the outdoors, get moving, and stay healthy.

Our municipal parks, trails, green spaces, tennis courts, Beautiful Joe’s Leash-free dog park and beaches are open to walk, run, and cycle. However, we must continue to plank the curve of community spread, so please remember to keep a 2m distance from others, to gather in groups of 5 or less, and to keep dogs leashed everywhere at all times. The boat launch is also open for day use, so kayakers, canoeists and boaters can social distance where they love to the best, out on the water.

Have you heard about #MeafordRecOnTheRun? Our talented and enthusiastic recreation program instructors are building a virtual programming space, including instructional videos to help you hone your skills and stay healthy from home. From swimming and soccer, to baking and gardening, the pros offer tips and tricks for you to try. There are so many other great hobbies that offer socially-distanced ways of enjoying the outdoors. Have you ever tried bird-watching, geocaching, fishing, or photography? How about meditation, yoga, or stargazing? We encourage you to show off how you’re staying busy, snap a picture and share it with #MeafordRecOnTheRun so your friends and neighbours can join in the fun! For more information, visit www.meaford.ca/recontherun or have a look at Meaford’s Parks and Recreation Facebook page.

When planning your adventures, please remember that play equipment, picnic tables, and washrooms are still unavailable for use as our staff investigate the necessary cleaning procedures to open these services safely. Make sure you bring your own equipment rather than sharing, and a stock of wipes or hand sanitizer to use.  Waterfront areas at Fred Raper Park and David Johnston Park also remain closed for your safety due to erosion damage.

We are so fortunate to live in this magnificent and welcoming corner of the natural world, and I’m cheering you on to take care of your body and spirit by staying active during this Recreation and Parks month, as we continue to play – safely of course – in the pursuit of community health and wellbeing.

Stay well everyone.

May 29, 2020

As we wrap up another month of social distancing, frequent hand washing, and reduced unnecessary travel, the warm summer weather is so very welcome. Gardens are flourishing, and woodland trails and green spaces beckon us to enjoy the great outdoors.

As we cautiously move towards recovery some of our outdoor amenities have reopened. The boat launch at Meaford Harbour is available for day use, Beautiful Joe’s Leash-free Dog Park, the Skateboard Park and Tennis Courts have all been reopened, and reportedly are being well used. The critical challenge is to make sure that we can keep our residents safe. Staff are developing cleaning procedures; they are prioritizing the reopening of facilities by our capacity to manage the process while complying strictly with Provincial and Health Unit guidelines. This might mean that our facilities take more time to reopen than our neighbours, but we’ll get there. Thank you all for your patience as we work hard to get our operations up and running again.

Your Council is here for you. We are taking care of municipal business – virtually now – with bi-weekly meetings. The next regular Council meeting is Monday, June 8th at 3:00 p.m., and there will also be a special meeting of Council on Monday, June 1st at 3:00 p.m. to review a staff report on TC Energy’s proposed pumped energy storage project. Right now the public can’t attend these meetings in person, but you can stream them live, or view the archived videos at www.meaford.ca/youtube. You can share your thoughts on any items coming before Council by email at council@meaford.ca.

Grey County, and particularly our municipality, have an exemplary record of a low number of confirmed cases, the number of full recoveries and no deaths related to Covid-19. This is not by accident; it is because our residents have steadfastly complied with the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Arra’s directions and the Health Unit’s protocols. However, we are not out of the woods yet.

We do not want a relapse that might be a repeat of what we have endured over the last two months. As restrictions relax and businesses reopen, we must do everything we can to keep COVID-19 cases from spiking once again. Frequent hand washing, social distancing within small groups of 5, and staying close to home – we know that’s the key to staying healthy and safe. As you support our local businesses, wear a mask if you can, respect floor markings or barriers, and shop with purpose by not handling items you don’t intend to purchase. Folks working in retail stores are our neighbours, so please be kind and patient as they attend to your needs. I encourage you to “Shop Local - Shop Smart”. As a caring community, it is up to all of us to support our local economy and to continue efforts to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Stay well everyone.

May 22, 2020

It finally feels like Summer has arrived this week, and how welcome that is! I hope you’re able to get outside to enjoy the sunshine and warmth, the gardens and the budding trees. The trails are well used with folks riding bikes, walking dogs and strollers, and fishing! It truly lifts our spirits to see so many out – keeping their distance of course, but enjoying the day!

This week, the Province of Ontario announced that schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year, unfortunately this means proms and all the exciting end of year activities our kids look forward to all will be cancelled. The summer stretching before us will look very different this year with some delays in reopening services. Thankfully, our community is sticking to the plan to contain the community spread of the virus, but we know the pandemic is not behind us yet. It will continue to impact what we do and how we do it for a long time to come.

Plans are in place to reopen Municipal services responsibly, as well as to help with economic recovery keeping the safety of our community and staff our top priority. Also this week, the province lifted more restrictions and announced a number of services can reopen, however we must work through several challenges to get our services back online. Challenges like staff capacity after delaying the hiring of 18 seasonal staff positions, as well as adapting to the new health, safety and cleaning procedures required by Public Health. Some maintenance projects were delayed, and must be completed before the facility can be opened to the public. As the province continues through their three phase recovery plan, we will make sure that we reopen our facilities and services when we can do it safely to protect you, our staff, and our community.

The health unit’s protocols of social distancing, frequent hand washing, and limiting unnecessary travel will be with us for a while longer. As we place our online orders, wait in spaced out lines, and wear masks to make purchases from behind plastic screens, it helps to remember that we are all in this together. In this stressful world, a little patience and kindness goes a long way. We are so grateful to those folks who continue to provide frontline services to protect us, and to all of you for staying strong, for continuing with the protocols to finally put this virus behind us.

Thanks everyone, and stay well.

May 15, 2020

The long weekend in May traditionally kicks off the summer season for many, but it looks very different this year as we continue to navigate this unprecedented situation. Happily, some restrictions like the fire ban have been revised, others like the Blue Dolphin pool, beaches, and playgrounds are more challenging to reopen in compliance with the safety protocols needed to protect the community and our staff. As always, the health and safety of our community remains our top priority, and as we continue to plan for economic and operational recovery, this will guide our decisions.

I am so proud of how folks have stepped up to this challenge by following the guidelines of social distancing, hand washing, and staying home. Thanks to these efforts, our Health Unit reports only one confirmed case of Covid-19 in Meaford, and no deaths related to the virus in all of the Grey Bruce area. These measures are working, and this truly exceptional community effort continues to keep us safe.

We so appreciate the patience, the kindness, and creative thinking that we have seen throughout this pandemic. Many of our residents have found new ways to connect with family and friends, and interesting ways to fill their days, with technology bridging the distance. Our staff have been coming up with fun and creative activities you can take part in from home such as the “nailed or failed” cooking challenge, to show off your home baking skills.

There is a coast-to-coast walking program sponsored by the Meaford Library where you can add your steps to the community total as Meaford treks - virtually - across the country from Newfoundland to British Colombia.

“Live it Live” is a special local music series to enjoy that is    livestreamed on facebook courtesy of Meaford Hall.

To take part in these fun-at-home programs and more, find ideas from Meaford Hall, our Public Library, and Parks and Rec on meaford.ca.

I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Victoria Day weekend. Please stay as strong, as resilient, and as caring as you have been. We are all in this together, and taking care of each other by sticking with the health protocols will keep our community safe.

Stay well everyone.

May 8, 2020

This week we’ve seen more changes as recovery planning continues and some restrictions are easing. Here in Meaford, the burn ban has been lifted so farmers can really get into spring clean-up and household units can gather around the backyard bonfire to toast marshmallows. Please be ever mindful of safety here – for you and our firefighters who might be called upon to extinguish a run-away fire. The Leaf and Yard Waste depot has reopened on Thursday through Saturday now, with extra precautions in place to keep our staff and residents safe. Renovation work has begun again on our new Library as well as the Meaford Harbour House, in hope of reopening the harbour this summer. A shout-out is appropriate here to our Friends of the Library’s fundraising team and our generous community for reaching a milestone of over $690,000 in donations.   How impressive is that!

There is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, but we still have a distance to go. Traditionally the start of summer, the Victoria Day long weekend, is fast approaching and some restrictions are relaxing, but we can’t let down the guard so carefully maintained all these weeks. That could easily spike an uptick in cases. Many of our cottagers have already returned, hopefully for the summer, but it is important to remember that the same restrictions and closures are in place across the province. Our outdoor recreation facilities such as beaches, boat launches, and conservation areas remain closed, and some supplies and services are limited, so extra visitors and single day-trips are discouraged for the duration.  Our parks and green spaces are still open to enjoy nature and exercise but everyone must comply with the Health Unit’s protocols:   washing hands, keeping 6 feet of distance between us, and avoiding unnecessary travel.

Recovery will not happen overnight - It will be carefully planned, slowly implemented, and closely monitored. If we continue to diligently follow the guidelines of the ministry of health and flatten the curve, we can keep this virus at bay and gradually reopen and rediscover our community.

To all the mothers out there, have a wonderful day on Sunday, safely and with great pride in raising the families you have. Take good care everyone.

May 1, 2020

May 1st – Happy First Responders' Day everyone! Another month of this unprecedented situation has come and gone, and the April showers that promised warmer weather and welcome Spring flowers have delivered.

There’s been a lot of talk about recovery this past week, even though we know the current restrictions will last a while longer. The Ontario Government released their framework to reopen the province, and the Prime Minister has been working on shared principles for the country to gradually and carefully restart the economy. The Municipality of Meaford is also working on a recovery plan to ensure that getting back to the business of meeting community needs and addressing our economic reality happens safely and responsibly. We aren’t out of the woods yet though - cabin fever is setting in, traditional spring chores are delayed or banned, and we know how hard it is to keep up with the protocols to stop community spread of the virus. We all miss the real hugs, the social traditions of family visits, birthday parties, and get togethers with friends, but we know, too, that what we have all been doing over the past 6 weeks is working.

For now, the best thing we can do is to continue to be diligent about social distancing, hand washing, and staying home except for essential outings. We’ve put in so much work over the past few weeks, we need to keep that momentum going to contain the spread of this virus. It is so important to continue to take care of ourselves, our families, and our communities by staying the course; by following all of the measures that have become altogether too familiar. This will carry us through to recovery.

You can also help by supporting the many local businesses that continue to offer their services. Many have worked quickly to modify their operations so they can keep their customers and their staff safe, while continuing to offer the kind of service that you just can’t find when shopping online. These business owners and their staff are our neighbours and our friends. They offer employment, they support local causes, and they volunteer in our community. Many have been hit very hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and they need your support now more than ever. Shopping locally will help keep our important businesses and our community vibrant.

Once again, thank you to all of you who continue to do the right thing for the common good of our whole Municipality. A difficult situation has been made much easier by the patience, the kindness, and caring that is part of our community year-round. It is a tangible thing that brings warmed hearts, smiles, and much needed comfort knowing that we are all in this together. And because of this we will emerge from this challenging time as a closer and more connected community.

Stay well and stay safe everyone.

April 24, 2020

Meaford Council held an electronic meeting earlier this week as we continue to address the needs of the municipality during this state of emergency. Through this new format we were provided with an Emergency Management update from our senior staff, and we made the decision to extend financial relief measures in our community. Council voted to defer the tax payment due date from April 28 to June 29, and we are waiving penalty and interest payments on all tax and water bills for the months of April, May and June. We know some in our community are dealing with unforeseen financial pressure due to COVID-19, and we hope this provides some breathing room for households in need. Council will be continuing to meet on our regular bi-weekly schedule going forward, and you can watch the meetings live or see the archived videos online at meaford.ca/youtube, or on Rogers TV.

We hope the last of the spring snowfall is behind us, and we are looking forward to some sun and warmer temperatures in the weeks to come. The warm weather lifts our spirits, but presents a challenge to enjoy the fresh open air at a time when our outdoor facilities are closed and social distancing is top of mind. Time and time again we hear from new residents and visitors that our beautiful natural surroundings drew them to our little corner of the world, and those who have spent their lives here certainly know the best views and the landmarks well.

I urge everyone to find ways to appreciate the outdoors safely. Discover treasures close to home to enjoy while avoiding non-essential travel to other communities. Our trails and green spaces are open for walking and enjoyment so take this opportunity to exercise, not socialize, and give other folks their 2 meters of distance for everyone’s safety. Let’s all find ways to connect with nature in a safe and responsible manner.

Once again, I want to thank everyone in our community for working so hard to plank the curve. Please know that your efforts to comply with the Health Unit’s protocols of social distancing, staying home except for essential travel, and washing your hands often are working. I encourage everyone to stay strong, and to be mindful of what we still need to do to keep our friends and neighbours safe until restrictions are lifted. Stay well, everyone.

April 17, 2020

A real strength of this wonderful community is the willingness of residents to step up, to meet challenges head on, and to do the right thing. I so appreciate how the community has taken the directions of the Medical Officer of Health seriously, staying home except for essential errands, practicing social distancing, and washing hands thoroughly and often. Because of this, we continue to see small increases in confirmed COVID-19 cases in our area so far, but from how the virus has progressed in other places, we know that we haven’t seen the worst of it yet.

This week the Grey Bruce Health Unit broadened their testing criteria, so we’ll likely see higher numbers in the coming weeks, but our hospitals and medical systems are ready. The Province of Ontario has now extended the state of emergency to mid-May, with every possibility of a further extension. We are in this for the long haul, and we need to continue to find ways to make the best of our temporary new normal.

We are adapting to our changing circumstances. Council will be meeting electronically on Monday, April 20th to continue the business of the Municipality. Along with safely providing essential services like water management, fire protection, and waste pickup, our staff are developing plans to increase productivity and find new ways of providing services, as well as working on a recovery plan to guide us when we do get back to standard operations. Although our offices are closed, we are still here for you, working from home and behind the scenes to keep the wheels turning.

This scale of shut-down is unprecedented, but it’s our best defense against the spread of this rampant virus. We’re all missing our traditional activities, our jobs, our places of worship, our families (especially grandchildren), and friends. In spite of social media applications like FaceTime, Skype, and others, this isolation isn’t easy, and it can lead to difficulties with our finances, personal relationships, and our physical and mental health. For those who may be dealing with these additional challenges through this pandemic, know that help is available. Please reach out by calling 211. This 24/7 hotline is available to connect you with community resources that can help, whether it’s deliveries for food and medication, mental health support, housing, or help applying for financial assistance programs. You are NOT going through this alone, and I urge everyone to reach out and use the resources that are here for you. 

As winter ends, we hope, and Spring sunshine warms up, please continue to stay home, continue to follow the Health Unit’s directions of handwashing and keeping that 2 metre distance. By continued commitment to these protocols, this point in time will end, and we will emerge stronger and more resilient than ever. 

April 10, 2020

We are continuing to adapt to our changing circumstances as we move towards our new normal. Your Council is here for you – we’ve had our first digital council meeting, and will continue to meet as needed to guide our community forward. Thank you to everyone who has been following the directives of the Minister of Health, practicing social distancing, washing your hands, and staying home.

As we head in to the first long weekend of spring, our celebrations will be looking very different this year. Instead of the traditional religious celebrations, big family dinners, and the fun of Easter egg hunts, we’ll be staying home and connecting with our loved ones and extended family through phone calls and video chats. While the empty streets and playgrounds may seem extra quiet on this long weekend, in the silence there is an expression of caring. We are all doing what we can to keep our family, friends, and neighbours safe. Our efforts are an act of solidarity against a threat we cannot see, and we’re all working together for the sake of not just ourselves, but our whole community.

Other expressions of caring are happening all across Meaford. Decorated windows and painted rocks are popping up in unexpected nooks and crannies in our neighbourhoods, which when discovered brighten someone’s day and puts a smile on their face.

Earlier this week you may have been aware of lights flashing and horns blaring as the Meaford Fire Department, Grey County Paramedics, and the Town of Blue Mountains Fire Department paraded past the Meaford Hospital and Long Term Care Home in a show of support. There is also a movement you can join to show support to healthcare workers by making noise, banging pots, and honking horns at 7:30 each evening, so feel free to join in and make some noise for healthcare workers. The Meaford Hospital Foundation is also seeking donations to support their team, and donors are receiving lawn signs showing support for our healthcare providers and all frontline workers.

These uplifting efforts are helping us all get through this difficult time. I encourage everyone to take part in your own special way. Please share your stories of kindness at www.meaford.ca/meafordcares, and join me in saying thank you to all those providing services on the front line, as well as all those who are helping lift our spirits. You can find some inspiring ideas on the Meaford CareMongering Facebook page.

I wish everyone a healthy and happy Easter weekend. Please share your stories with us of the virtual family gatherings, traditional dinners, and meaningful family time shared in unusual ways this year. I urge you to continue to stay strong, resilient, and caring, and to know that complying with the precautions of handwashing, social distancing, and staying home will help control the community spread of this virus – It’s the right thing to do for our community. Happy Easter Everyone!

April 3, 2020

We have had another week of changes in our community due to COVID-19. Most notable is the provincial order to close our outdoor recreation facilities, which include the off-leash dog park, tennis courts, Skateboard Park, beaches, and more. With the beautiful weather that is coming our way and cabin fever starting to set in, I know we will all want to be getting outdoors. These closures are in place for a reason, to keep our community healthy and safe, and I urge everyone to avoid these facilities and keep proper social distancing as you get out to enjoy the sunshine. If you see activity that concerns you, you can notify the non-emergency police line at 1-888-310-1122, or email the Municipality at bylaw@meaford.ca and they will patrol the area. 

We all must play our part! Critical staff are working hard at the frontlines in this battle to keep the shelves stocked, the hospital open, and the essential services functioning. We must make their jobs safer by maintaining a safe distance, washing our hands, staying home except for essential outings, and showing them our heartfelt appreciation. Let’s all take the time to thank those who are working to keep the wheels turning, and let’s keep the positive stories of kindness and compassion top-of-mind. Please feel free to share your stories and shout outs by visiting meaford.ca/meafordcares, and we can all help lift each other up as we face this together. 

This week I would like to give a special shout out to the first responders in our community, who spend all year keeping us safe, but who are now putting themselves and their families more at risk to help those in need. The Meaford Fire Department of volunteer firefighters continue to provide frontline response in our community that includes hours of training and preparation so that they can be there when we need them. Thank you once again to our firefighters, paramedics, and police officers; we greatly appreciate all you do to keep us safe and well. 

As we head into this beautiful weekend, I hope we can all get some fresh air and find a quiet moment of appreciation for the friendly, responsive community we live in. This is a point in time that will end and the harder all of us work now to comply with the precautions of social distancing, and hand washing, the sooner that time will come. 

March 27, 2020

We made the decision this week to declare a state of emergency in the Municipality of Meaford. While there is no need to panic, this situation is serious and unprecedented, and it is having a significant impact on our residents and businesses. We are committed to taking proactive measures to limit the spread of the virus and its effect on our community’s wellbeing.

We all have noted how rapidly changes are happening. We’re updated regularly by Public Health, and by the provincial and federal levels of  government. Our Emergency Control group meets several times a week and we’re staying in close contact with the Grey Bruce Health Unit, Grey County, and our neighbouring municipalities as the situation progresses.

We want to help you to stay informed as well. You can find the latest news, frequently asked questions, and information on Municipal services on our website at meaford.ca/covid19.  You can also call 2-1-1, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for up-to-date information on our services, and how to access any other available community supports.

Once again I want to thank the volunteers and staff who are providing essential service to our community.  Whether they are healthcare workers, operating the water plant, stocking the grocery store, manning the food bank, or they are dealing with roads and infrastructure, they are on the front line putting their own health and that of their families at risk.  We all owe them a huge virtual hug.  A lot has changed rapidly in our community, and that can be frustrating, but I urge everyone to show these dedicated workers kindness, patience, and of course proper social distancing as they continue to offer these essential services.

If you are looking to make a difference, our Golden Town Outreach Foodbank is accepting monetary donations at canadahelps.org to help support their efforts.  If you would like to provide other assistance, please visit thedo.ca. This is a wonderful program run by the United Way of Bruce Grey, using their resources to connect willing volunteers with community members in need of assistance.

Our community is strong, resilient, and caring. We’ve seen amazing acts of kindness between friends and neighbours, and it reminds me – yet again – why I’m so proud to be a member of this wonderful community.

With the hope of Spring bringing sunshine and warm weather, I urge you all to stay concerned about this situation, but don’t be afraid.  We are all in this together, supporting each other and focusing on the health and wellbeing of our community as we continue to practice social distancing, washing our hands frequently, and staying home while connecting remotely with family, friends, and neighbours.  Stay well, physically and emotionally and know that by working  through this together, we will emerge a stronger and more united community.

 March 17, 2020
The Municipality of Meaford’s top priority is the health and safety of our community and our staff. In order to prevent the spread of the COVID 19 virus, public health experts and the Province have emphasized the importance of practicing social distancing. We have taken the proactive measure of closing all non-essential municipal services and programs to help slow virus transmission and protect the vulnerable members of our community.

Essential services such as water and wastewater services, garbage and recycling pickup, fire services, and road services will continue to operate as usual. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we focus on supporting these critical areas, and would like to give special thanks to the staff who will be working hard to continue these operations.

This is an exceptional situation, and we have exceptional people in our community who are doing everything they can to help, including our staff and community groups. I know that our community will continue to take care of eachother – keeping the required social distancing, people will check in on vulnerable friends and neighbours, and those who have extra will share with those in need. I have already seen local businesses and community groups stepping up to help, and I know these connections will continue to build to make sure that no one is left behind.

The Municipal Emergency Control Group which includes senior staff and myself, is continuing to operate and communicate with Council, Public Health, Grey County, and upper levels of government as this situation progresses. Let me assure you that your Council is engaged and doing everything we can to keep you informed, and we’ll be ready to reconvene when possible.

We’ll be monitoring the situation closely and providing regular updates to our community, and urge everyone to stay informed and follow the best practices recommended by health agencies. We will continue to communicate openly and provide regular updates over the coming weeks. Please check our website, Meaford.ca, and social media pages for up-to-date information, and subscribe to our news feed to receive updates directly to your inbox.

Our community is strong, inclusive and resilient. We know that in this time of crisis, we will all work together to overcome this challenge, and will emerge as a more connected and caring community.

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