2020-03-18

South Shore begins to shut down as COVID-19 cases increase

by Charles Mandel

More South Shore municipalities announced closures today in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of March 16, Nova Scotia has five cases of COVID-19, one of which has tested positive, while the other four are presumptive.

The Region of Queens Municipality (RQM), Mahone Bay and Chester all announced measures they are taking to try and stem the spread of the virus, which appeared in Nova Scotia for the first time.

David Dagley, the mayor of RQM, said in a statement that while these changes will be an inconvenience, they are necessary. "We must be proactive and do what is in the best interest of our residents, visitors and staff to ensure their safety.

"We hope that these preventative measures will lessen the amount of time we are required to reduce services while continuing to provide essential services to our communities that they require. We will continue to monitor the situation daily and adjust our plans as required. Your cooperation in this regard is appreciated."

Region of Queens Municipality

Queens Place Emera Centre, including the Community Room, is closed to the public effective 5:00 p.m. today. Members will have their memberships extended for the term of this closure and other paid programming such as fitness classes will be re-scheduled when it is deemed safe to do so.

During this closure, staff will undertake a comprehensive cleaning of the entire facility. Additionally, the arena portion of the facility was scheduled for a three-week shutdown from mid-June to early July in order to complete a significant maintenance program. This maintenance shutdown and work will commence shortly and continue into April, replacing the scheduled June /July 3-week closure.

Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use Bylaw Public Meetings scheduled in various communities throughout Queens County over the next two weeks are now cancelled. These meetings will be re-scheduled when deemed safe to do so. In the meantime, we encourage residents when self-isolating to review these documents on our website and provide written comments via that method at https://www.queensplan.com/.

Public Works building is closed to the public, as is the Liverpool Public Market Shelter.

The tax sale scheduled for March 18, 2020, is postponed and will be re-scheduled when it is deemed safe to do so.

RQM also announced a number operating changes.

Parks, playgrounds, green spaces such as Pine Grove Park, and beaches will remain open as usual. RQM will try to regularly clean and disinfect playground equipment, but this may be limited by the availability of cleaning supplies.

Families are encouraged to ensure their own safe practices by washing hands immediately after use with their own supplies on-site or as soon as they get home, and refrain from touching your face, eyes or mouth when using these facilities.

The RQM municipal office will remain open however; some services may be limited as staff are being given the opportunity to work from home to reduce the density of work spaces and people interactions. Residents are encouraged to contact them by email and phone as a first option, and avoid visiting the municipal office unless absolutely necessary. As always, payments may be made by mail, by electronic e-post, or through on-line banking.

Building permits and development permits will continue to be available, but people are asked to call to make an appointment to ensure our staff will be available. You can do this by calling (902) 354-3455 or by emailing cwatson@regionofqueens.com.

Queens Solid Waste Management Facility and waste collection will continue as usual. No disruption to collection of waste, organics and recyclables is expected and the Solid Waste Management Facility north of Milton will operate as usual with modest operational changes that will not be noticeable to the public.

Hillsview Acres Residential Care Facility is closed to the public, including family members.

Mahone Bay

The town office in Mahone Bay is closing its doors to the public as stated in a news release March 16 as a response to the fight against COVID-19, the town announced in a release.

As of March 17, the town office will be closed to the public. The outdoor drop-box at the town office for town utility and other bill payments is available 24/7.

Essential town services will not be interrupted, and staff will continue to monitor phone lines and emails throughout the closure. The town will not be applying interest to any outstanding accounts for the month of April.

As well, in-person engagement events have been cancelled including town events, workshops and public information meetings. The Mahone Bay Volunteer Fire Department has cancelled the bingo at the fire hall. This also includes the scheduled '20s dance on March 21 and the fire hall breakfast March 29.

All town council and committee meetings have also been suspended, until further notice, except for the public hearing and special meeting scheduled to take place at the Mahone Bay Legion March 19 at 7 p.m. This meeting is in regards to the updated Development Agreement with the MacLeod Group Health Services.

Chester

Chester announced that at the municipal office, the front entrance will remain open, however, the Annex Building and the top floor in the main office are closed.

Payments for services can still be made at the front counter, but also online or in the drop box outside of the building.

All meetings are now closed to the public. The upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting March 19 will be live-streamed.

All recreational programming is closed until June and all municipal parks, playgrounds and facilities are closed until further notice. Call 902-275-3490 for more information.

There is no change to waste collection or landfill operations.

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