On the eve of Yom Kippur I repeat something everyone has heard many times since last March: be careful! There are new limitations to public gatherings. Please abide by them.
COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. We had a brief reprieve over the summer when too many people let their guards down, but now we are entering a second wave.
I do not think that Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, our seven members of council and our staff ever imagined a mandate like this. It has been a challenge and that is for certain, but I think as elected officials we have handled this pandemic responsibly.
First let me underline the incredible leadership shown by our senior management trio of Tanya Abramovitch, Jonathan Shecter and Nadia Di Furia. They have been ahead of the game every step of the way. Our teams in Finance, Urban Development/Engineering, Public Works, Purchasing, Communications, IT, the Library, City Clerk’s Office, Parks and Recreation and Public Safety have done an incredible job. I could not be more proud.
Look at our Men’s Club. This is a group which lives for personal gatherings, but since last spring they have embraced the Zoom video platform and opened up an entire new world. This brings me to my next subject. Out of respect for social distancing measures and in order to discourage seniors and others coming to public gatherings, all of our city council and committee meetings have been held via Zoom since March. And you know what? It works beautifully. In fact, over the past seven months our number of meetings have more than doubled!
Until there is a vaccine, bringing eight elected officials, staff and the public into a hardly spacious council chamber would be a very bad idea. Just look at the recent spate of COVID-19 positive cases for politicians: the leaders of the Bloc Québecois and the Conservative Party of Canada. Our own Councillor David Tordjman was at an event for the latter. He said he stayed for less than a half hour, wore a mask at all times and made sure to clean his hands any time he touched something. Nonetheless he got COVID as well. Please see this story.
There are a number of hot button issues coming up on our agenda. We broadcast our public meetings live now on YouTube, via Zoom, and as Larry David would say, attendance is “pretty..;pretty..pretty good.” People can ask questions in the comments section or send them in advance.
I shudder to think of how we would be functioning if this pandemic had occurred in say 1987?
I have spent the past few months walking my District 2 on foot several days a week and talking to constituents from a distance. My district meetings have successfully moved to Zoom and I am happy to say work is getting done at a good pace.
We all want this to be over, but now we must brace ourselves for a rough fall and winter. Get your flu shot! One can only pray that by spring that elusive vaccine will arrive.