Looking back at the last 12 months, Tillsonburg Mayor Stephen Molnar said he is proud of the community, both individually and collectively.
“It’s not been easy for anyone,” said Molnar. “Certain segments of the population, our most vulnerable, have certainly been impacted… those in our long term care homes, businesses –primarily the hospitality industry. Some of those can’t utilize some of the available retail options while we’re in full lockdown.
“It’s financial, it’s emotional, it’s psychological, but I think as a whole, while there is isolated incidents not respecting public health protocol, that on average as a community we should be proud. We are doing our best, individually and collectively, to keep our neighbours safe.”
And the work’s not done, he said, even though vaccinations are happening regionally, and within weeks will be happening locally.
“As vaccinations continue to roll out, as a higher percentage of the population gets vaccinated, then it’s understanding that there is still responsibilities that we all need to share until such time as we can understand that this situation is behind us. And it will get behind us.”
Molnar said the municipality over the past 12 months has done what it can to mitigate some of the COVID pressures, through financial assistance where possible and creating a pandemic working group to help share information on all of the assistance programs that available (including federal, provincial, regional and local).
That would include a program for deferral of interest on late tax payments on a local basis, water and wastewater deferrals, and the reduction of hydro rates.
Molnar said the town’s requirement from taxation is going down in 2021, compared to 2020.
“A full shout-out and respect to our corporate team. They were challenged with continuing to provide a service which has not been jeopardized, and doing it in a new environment where their health and safety – and the health and safety of the entire community – are protected.
“We came out of 2019 into 2020 with an extremely aggressive business plan, appropriately financed, and not all but most of our expectations in 2020 were accomplished.”
And to do that during a pandemic, he said, was a great accomplishment.
Over the last 12 months, the town has learned how to operate more efficiently by utilizing new technologies.
“I hope on an operational basis that we will continue to identify some of the benefits that we’ve been able to use for the past 12 months, and incorporate them into overall operational plans. That’s ultimately to the benefit of our citizens.”
In Tillsonburg, events are still being cancelled in 2021. The Kinsmen Club’s Easter Egg Hunt on April 3 being one of them and Turtlefest another, typically held in June, is another.
“My personal hope is that as we continue to work together to mitigate the impacts, and as vaccinations are ramped up, and we get back to some level of normalcy, I am really looking forward to the town embracing and opportunity where we can… just meet with neighbours and visit. That is so much what I believe everyone wants. But until that times comes, we have to be acutely aware of the ramifications of that.”