By Trevor Busch
Westwind Weekly News
Responsive to the new realities presented by a global pandemic, Cardston County is coming to grips with the restrictions that have been imposed while maintaining essential services for residents.
“Cardston County is fully aware of the situation and we’re trying to bring a local approach to it,” said Reeve Randy Bullock. “Basically Alberta Health Services dictates the rules that we follow, but we have a pandemic policy locally that we’ve reviewed and are trying to make known to our area residents. The county website, and Facebook, our information officer at the county provides weekly updates on our website from Alberta Health and the statistics that are produced. As far as the organization goes, our employees — we’re taking measures to make sure our employees are safe, and trying to follow the protocols that we’re all supposed to be following. In our document, we’ve determined where our most important services are, that being our water distribution and our infrastructure. And we’re making sure our employees that are working in those departments maintain isolation. Our water operators, we don’t want them coming face-to-face even with other individuals that they work with, so we’re trying to isolate them as an essential service. We have several water operators in the county, and we don’t want them all to get sick at the same time. We’re trying to take measures there to keep them distanced so that we’re not out all at the same time.”
Bullock commented on the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is affecting municipalities across the province.
“A guy has to kind of go with the worst case scenario and anticipate some things, because this county’s never experienced a pandemic before, and that’s probably true for all of Alberta, right? So this is new country for every municipality really. We’re re-evaluating our situation daily and weekly, and as a council, we’re having weekly briefings with the administrator, just making sure we’re trying to see the future.”
County council has not declared a local state of emergency, but Bullock doesn’t rule this measure out if circumstances were to radically change.
“Not at this point. We’re waiting for something a little more drastic to happen. We understand that there’s neighbouring municipalities that have, but as of this date (April 9) there hasn’t been an infected individual within the county. We’re following those stats. I guess if the time comes — and if we see cases arise in the county — we will consider that.”
As the financial fallout of the pandemic restrictions begins to permeate down to the municipal level and impact the local economy, Bullock says the county will be doing what it can to assist residents in riding out the storm.
“Cardston County is reviewing — this is tax season, everyone is anticipating their tax bill come June here — so we’re exploring options, like other municipalities, possibly tax deferrals. Taxes will ultimately have to be paid, but we understand the negative impact financially on a lot of people. At our next council meeting (April 15) we’re going to be discussing options regarding possible deferrals, just like you see elsewhere in the province. We want to be approachable and be able to work with people that are experiencing hard times. That’s one thing we’re looking at right now — money is tight for everybody — and we’re hoping to not go our traditional route where we collect taxes. We’re going to possibly defer, or not charge interest — in the past we would charge a late fee if their taxes didn’t come in on time — we’re going to most likely waive that this time.”
If you have a question for the County related to COVID-19, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.