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Council gives mayor new authority amid state of emergency

'It is my hope that the state of emergency declared in the city can be over in the very near future,' said Mayor Steve Clarke
council screen shot may 11
At a special meeting of city council today, municipal politicians endorsed an amendment to the emergency measures bylaw, giving Mayor Steve Clarke the ability to waive and reinstate certain regulations within the bylaw.

Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke is hoping the state of emergency in Orillia could soon end.

At a special meeting of council this afternoon - held virtually - council approved an amendment to the emergency measures bylaw the city enacted April 15. That bylaw gave municipal bylaw enforcement officers special powers during the city's declared state of emergency.

Today's amendment gives the mayor, in consultation with the Emergency Management Committee (EMC), the ability to waive and reinstate certain regulations contained within the bylaw as he deems appropriate.

Essentially, the move is to give the EMC “nimbleness” and the ability to act quickly as the landscape changes, the mayor explained.

“The information we receive and direction, often from the province and sometimes from the federal government, changes daily and sometimes hourly,” Clarke told city councillors.

Because of that, the amendment is necessary to allow the EMC to act quickly - without having to call a special meeting of council.

If the province decides to open park amenities or marinas, “we want to be able to respond fairly rapidly, for example, with opening of our boat launches,” said Clarke. “Right now, the EMC does not have the ability to do that without council’s blessing.”

The amendment also makes the decision to end the state of emergency a little easier, said the mayor.

“It is my hope that the state of emergency declared in the city can be over in the very near future,” said Clarke.

But if that were to happen and as a result of the easing of restrictions and other factors, numbers of positive COVID-19 cases spiked and if a second wave of the deadly virus occurred, the city might have to quickly reinstate restrictions.

Without the amendment, the EMC would have to come back to council for approval to do that.

Orillia Fire Chief Brent Thomas told councillors the city is adhering to protocol in asking for this amendment.

“When an emergency is declared, my position is part of the EMC that makes decisions, but as per the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, it is the mayor who makes declarations and decisions and announcements of those decisions,” said the fire chief.

“We are following the exact protocol,” he said.

The amendment was supported unanimously - without any debate.


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Dave Dawson

About the Author: Dave Dawson

Dave Dawson is community editor of
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