A West Kent Councillor is hoping to stop the Provincial lockdowns in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.
However, the director of legal services in C-K says the Municipality has no jurisdiction to do so.
Councillor Mark Authier entered a notice of motion at the virtual Council meeting on Monday, April 12, 2021, requesting that Mayor Darrin Canniff send a letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford “requesting the Premier to stop the lock downs” in Chatham-Kent.
“We are in another lock down, which is hurting the small businesses in Chatham-Kent,” Authier said in his notice of motion.
“We do not know when the lockdowns will stop and Chatham-Kent is and has been doing an excellent job of keeping our COVID-19 numbers low. Every lockdown, Chatham-Kent is losing more small businesses.”
In a social media post on Tuesday morning, April 13, 2021, Authier said he is hoping “everyone with an opinion for (or) against” to let all of Council know their thoughts.
“First, I will let you know it is not to be re-elected, as I am not running again,” Authier said in his post.
“Secondly, it will not be a free for all. It will be like it was when we were in the red zone. There will be restrictions like there was before the other locations in Ontario put us all in a lock down. We have less than 50 COVID cases, as well as zero COVID patients in the hospital as of last night. We will still need masks, washing hands and staying six feet apart.”
Authier added: “Obviously there will be people who do not agree and there will be people who agree. I have no problem with people who disagree but, please be civil and I will as well. It is everyone’s right to disagree with others, but there is not need to be rude to each other.”
During the non-agenda portion of Monday’s meeting, Wallaceburg Councillor Carmen McGregor said Councillors had been getting a lot of requests from people in the community to change the directions from the Province of Ontario related to COVID-19.
“I don’t know that everybody fully understands that we as Councillors don’t have the ability to change Provincial direction,” McGregor said.
Dave Taylor, the director of legal services for Chatham-Kent, said these directions from the Province of Ontario “is not something that can be changed at the local level.
“We want to make sure our community understands this, particularly people who are being hit hard again by the lockdown and the stay at home order,” Taylor said.
“The vast number of decisions that are being made regarding these issues are really made by the Province and within Provincial jurisdiction. They are passing regulations and orders, mostly under the declared emergency that the Premier has the power to declare, and then pass regulations or different orders underneath that.”
Taylor added: “Because of the fact that is all coming from Provincial legislation, and the powers that the Premier has, it is not really Chatham-Kent Council or other agencies within our Municipal family that have the power to adjust any of these. All of it does come to the Province… so, that’s the determination about what businesses can stay open, what the rules are, including also the stay at home order and what the terms are going to be.”
Taylor said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, has some abilities “in the right scenario” to put specific restrictions in place locally.
“Maybe a specific business or to increase the levels here in Chatham-Kent if we were seeing bad case counts,” Taylor said.
“However, he does not have the ability, nor does Municipal Council, to lower what the Province has decided.”
Taylor said some of the implementation of the Provincial directions does fall to Chatham-Kent.
“The Province doesn’t have all of the necessary staff to take phone calls from businesses or effected citizens, or also go out and do enforcement when it may be necessary,” he said.
“That is why citizens will see Municipal involvement in this, because it may be our public health staff, or our Municipal by-law enforcement officers or police officers, that have to do the implementation, who take the phone calls, who respond to questions and ultimately sometimes do some enforcement steps and go out an lay charges if necessary. Again, that’s all in the implementation of Provincial laws and not something that Council has decided or can decide.”
Authier’s motion is set to be discussed at the virtual Council meeting on Monday, April 26, 2021.
The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.