Huron-Kinloss Warden Mitch Twolan announced this week that the township will not be turning on the water valves for seasonal residents.
He imposed the order in an attempt to deter people from self-isolating at their cottages and took to Facebook to explain his decision. After thanking first responders and medical professionals, he explained the decision was made, after careful consideration, in an attempt to contain the virus, protect residents, and comply with the government’s suggestions for limiting all non-essential travel.
“We need to do our part to flatten the curve,” he said. “This is not a vacation or a holiday. This pandemic is serious.”
Several mayors from rural cottage communities have been discouraging city dwellers from self-isolating at their summer homes in smaller communities to minimize the strain on local medical resources.
“Unfortunately, some people are not taking this seriously and are ignoring our pleas,” he said. “As a result, I have taken a municipal order to ensure this is taken seriously. We will not be turning on water for our seasonal residents. Now is not the time to be opening your cottage.”
Premier Doug Ford also held a press conference last Friday to urge seasonal residents to stay in the city while the province is in a state of emergency due to COVID-19. Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Teresa Tam, mirrored this in a public statement on Sunday.
In his video statement to the public, Mayor Twolan explained the township’s reasoning and authority to invoke and enforce the emergency order. Individuals not complying with the order are liable for a fine of $100,000 and one year in prison.
By Wednesday, the video had garnered countless reactions.
“Much respect even though I miss my cottage. See all my cottage, friends and family when this nightmare is over and not before. Stay home, Stay safe EVERYONE, be a real superhero,” read one comment by Facebook user Diane Turner.
“I applaud this, Mitch. I know it’s not an easy decision but it’s the right one given the circumstances. The true test of a leader is how they lead during difficult times, and I appreciate what you are doing to protect our community,” wrote commenter Michelle Wright.
While most comments reflected gratitude and agreement with the message while others were unhappy with the decision.
“So I am assuming no property taxes will be collected on the properties for 2020?” questioned Facebook user WR Ryan.
This is the first action taken by an Ontario mayor in rural locations that play host to seasonal residents each year. It is uncertain at this time if other mayors in cottage locations will enact similar orders in the coming weeks and months in an attempt to combat the spread of COVID-19.