Local elected officials will participate in a special city council meeting Thursday that targets the "irresponsible behaviour" of visitors to the Sunshine City.
Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke said bad behaviour is "escalating" in the form of large crowds of people congregating, primarily, at local beaches. Visitors, he said, are flouting rules put in place to slow the spread of the dreaded coronavirus.
"I want to assure residents that our bylaw officers, in conjunction with the OPP, have been patrolling parks and doing what they can to address the issue of large gatherings," said the mayor in a video message to citizens. (Click on the video above to hear the entire message)
The mayor said the city is "on it" and will attempt to tackle the issue. It's why the mayor has called the special meeting of council, slated for Thursday morning. The topic of the meeting is the "use of waterfront parking lots and boat launches by out-of-town visitors."
The mayor said now is not the time to relax restrictions and urges people to remain vigilant in following public health guidelines including physical distancing, hand-sanitizing and the use of masks in places where physical distancing is not possible.
"We've worked really hard to keep the community safe," said the mayor, noting Orillia "typically welcomes visitors (who) are a vital part of the local economy. But the No. 1 priority right now is the health and safety of our community."
Referencing massing outbreaks in southern U.S. states, Clarke said it's easy to see how things can get out of hand quickly
As a result, the mayor said he will be "asking council to contemplate short-term measures the city could put in place to address the use of parking and boat launches by visitors."
He said the goal is "to protect the safety of our citizens."
In the meantime, the mayor is preaching patience and implores people visiting to be "responsible guests."
Due to COVID-19 protocols, Thursday's 9 a.m. meeting is a virtual meeting. Click here Thursday morning to watch the meeting.