It has now been six weeks since a state of emergency was declared in Saskatchewan, and another two-week extension was declared earlier this week. We know these past two months have been hard for residents, especially with the prolonged uncertainty about when our communities will be able to fully re-open and with the latest outbreaks in northern Saskatchewan. I want to let you know about what we as the city have been up to over the past six weeks, and some of what we have planned for the future.
Council has committed to penalty-free extensions for the payment of utility and property tax accounts. The city has also committed to not turn off anyone’s water if their account is behind on payments during this time.
Our recreation department is working on ‘Active in Isolation’ community events, including a virtual community bingo held through Facebook Live next Thursday (May 7).
We have partnered with the Door of Hope, Salvation Army, and Northwest School Division to organize a curbside community food drive May 14. This food drive will help support the meal programs run by these three organizations. Residents can visit go to this link or visit our website for more information about how to participate in this project.
We are publishing updates several times per week, and compiling all past updates and other useful resources on our website at meadowlake.ca/p/covid19.
I know many of you are worried about the outbreak in northern Saskatchewan. I have been in regular contact with the other northern mayors, and I know these leaders are committed to working with their residents to limit the spread of the virus. I am also discussing your concerns with provincial leaders, who are increasing their assistance to the north and as of yesterday have upgraded travel restrictions to a provincial order.
I also want to make sure you are aware of the following provincial resources and recommendations: Any concerns about breaches of the provincial orders can be reported to the toll-free COVID-19 line at 1-855-559-5502. This still includes large gatherings over 10 people or businesses not adhering to provincial orders (including door to door sales which are currently prohibited); Since specific case details are not being released about COVID-19 cases, in order to protect patient privacy, it is important we all take precautions as if the virus is present here in Meadow Lake. This is a better way to protect yourself than to rely on reports about how close the nearest active cases may be, especially as people may pass on the virus without being aware they have it.
Phase 1 of the Reopen Saskatchewan goes into effect Monday, which is an exciting milestone for us to have reached. However, it is important to remember this is not a free-for-all, and there are still four phases to go. Most restrictions remain in place, and public health advice about hand washing, physical distancing, and keeping your social circle small has not changed. The closer we hold to these guidelines now, the quicker we will be able to reach the later phases of the re-opening plan.
Starting in May, I will be issuing a weekly update each Friday to help stay in touch. I have heard from several residents about your concerns throughout the pandemic and I want to keep hearing from you. Thank you, and I hope we can all continue to stay strong together. The response of our residents and businesses to date has made me proud to be the mayor of this great community