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Once again, its my pleasure to catch up with you.
I really want to thank our community for all of the local efforts that have been put forth in the last few months: innovative PPE, homemade masks, rocks of encouragement, meal provisions, signs of appreciation and many thoughtful initiatives all originated by this very generous and caring community. On behalf of all, I would like to express our huge gratitude to all the front-line workers.
I would also like to congratulate all of the graduates of 2020 who are not able to take part in traditional ceremonies this year. Graduations from grade 8, high school or post secondary are all milestones and we recognize your accomplishments and applaud you.
Each of us should be proud of the low number of COVID cases in Huntsville. Good adherence to the rules, including staying home more, social distancing when we are out, wearing masks; all of these moves have contributed to keeping the spread in check.
We are entering what appears to be a long hot July and August and our community is home to many travellers during the summer months, so it is imperative that we continue to practise the rules that have served us so well to date. Summer traditionally brings about more social gatherings so we must continue to protect ourselves by practising our two-metre rule, wearing masks, and frequent hand washing.
As of June 12th, our circles have increased to 10, summer patios are open and most retail stores are accessible to in-store options as well as still providing curbside pick up. We have assisted our business community with hand sanitizer, masks and social distancing stickers, all in an effort to keep all residents safe as they go out to shop and support our local merchants.
We have also painted arrows for one-way walking traffic on Main Street and six-feet markers for distancing. Everyone is encouraged to social distance while downtown and while waiting to enter establishments. We are also working with stores that want to expand their patios onto the street.
The town will continue to follow the guidance of the province and medical professionals and for every new allowance we will cautiously weigh the benefits of opening. We will consider first the health and safety of our residents and then the economics of each move. We have reopened parks, beaches, boat launches, tennis courts, basketball, volleyball, dog park, and frisbee golf.
Sport fields (except for Conroy) and playgrounds are still closed, but we are anticipating good news on that front soon.
I am a golfer and I have appreciated the opportunity to get back out and play again though with great care and different rules. I imagine many are eager to resume other activities as they arise. We are blessed with some of the greatest natural beauty in the province, right here in Muskoka. I hope each of you get a chance to engage in an outdoor activity that feeds your soul and relieves some of the stress this pandemic and change has caused.
The building department is fully functional and planning applications (if not contentious) are being processed. Now that the Province has suspended the delay in hearing planning applications they will resume in July, either virtually or in person.
We are holding regular council meetings, albeit only one a month right now. At this time, they are still virtual, however we are investigating a return to in-person Council.
While we continue with our battle against the virus, we are slowly addressing other town business matters.
The Town Hall is expected to fully open to the public on July 6th with all of the safety measures in place.
We are moving forward with the Community Planning Permit System. This will be close to a year-long process and entails public consultation. This system will streamline planning applications and help in the prevention of tree and vegetation removal prior to the application being approved.
As well, the Short-Term Rental licensing is underway, applications can be made online and everyone with a short-term rental is asked to have their license or their application filed no later than July 15th. A licensed facility ensures all safety measures are in place and guests are well looked after.
So, as we approach our coveted summer season, please treat each other with kindness and respect, protect yourself and others. Protect all of the hard work we’ve accomplished in the last three months in our fight against the virus. Together we stop the second wave.
The Town will not be marking Canada Day with its usual public festivities or fireworks, but be assured we will fly our flag proudly in celebration of the 153rd anniversary of Confederation. Happy Canada Day, Huntsville!
Main image: Photo of Mayor Karin Terziano by Kelly Holinshead, The Shutterbug Gallery. Town Hall photo by Dawn Huddlestone, Huntsville Doppler.
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