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City council meeting called to talk about 'community assistance'

Check out the Mayor's video message to the community; Cipolla said it 'breaks his heart' to see the fallout, locally, of the global pandemic

Orillia City Council will be having a special meeting this afternoon. No agenda for the 3 p.m. meeting has been published, but the purpose of the meeting is “community assistance.”

At an emergency meeting of council Wednesday, several city councillors wondered aloud about what the municipality could do to help those reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 virus.

The global pandemic led the province to declare a state of emergency earlier this week that triggered the closure of all bars and restaurants and has led many local businesses to close their doors to the public.

Coun. Ralph Cipolla, who has been a downtown merchant for 49 years, said at this week’s meeting that the fallout for local businesses is heartbreaking.

“Plants and offices and retail stores are shut down,” said Cipolla. “For the first time in 49 years on a weekday, the whole (main) street is almost a ghost town. It breaks my heart to see that happen.”

He thinks the city should consider ways to help citizens.

 “What can we do financially ... to help people afford to exist?”

That is the topic of today’s session, which will not be open to the public. In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, the province passed emergency legislation this week to allow councils to conduct their meetings virtually.

Previously, a quorum, or majority, of councillors had to be physically present for a council to make any binding decisions. Now, council members can attend virtually.

At Wednesday’s meeting, three councillors and city CAO Gayle Jackson participated in the meeting remotely.

While this afternoon’s meeting is not open to the public, it will be livestreamed. Click here to watch the livestream at 3 p.m.

The city also has created a dedicated webpage to COVID-19 and its implications locally. Click here to visit that page. Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke is also providing regular video messages to update the community about what the city is doing.