In Wake of Virus Outbreak, Niagara Region Forging Ahead With Delivery of Essential Services

Regional Chair Jim Bradley Shares Hope Niagara Will Emerge from Coronavirus Crisis a ‘Stronger, More Resilient Community’

Niagara Mayors and Regional Chair join together to form Niagara Economic Rapid Response Team

A Brief Report by Doug Draper, following by a News Release from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted March 18th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley .

Niagara, Ontario – Members of Niagara’s Regional Council held a special meeting this March 18th to address some of the concerns and challenges Niagara is facing in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Niagara’s Regional Chair Jim Bradley began the meeting by noting that a few regional councillors from across Niagara were not in attendance because they were in “self-isolation”’ at home “after travelling outside of the country,” and those who were there were seated further apart from one and another – following the recommendations of health experts around the world that people should practice “social distancing” to prevent spread of what appears to be a highly infectious virus.

Bradley went on to thank the Region’s staff for the work they are doing, despite what is a “rapidly evolving situation” that could grow worse before it gets better , to keep services working.

“The Region,” said Bradley, “is responsible for providing dozens of essential services, may to the most vulnerable members of our community,” and has every intention to keep them operating.

“It goes without saying,” he concluded, “that we are living through a challenging time of uncertainty, but I know that as a region, we will emerge as a stronger and more resilient community.”

Bradley said he and other members of the regional council have already heard many stories of people in Niagara helping each other through these times, and he hopes that such acts will continue to “define us in the coming weeks.”

Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Niagara Region’s Medical Officer of Health (acting)

Councillors also received an update from the Region’s acting Medical Health Officer Dr. Matafa Hirji who reported, at the time of the March 18th, late afternoon special meeting of the regional council that the number of confirmed cases of the virus in Niagara remained at three.

All three cases have been traced to contact with the virus outside of Canada and, as of the time of the council meeting and this posting, there were no known cases of transmission between individuals locally.

However, Dr. Hirji warned that “we expect to see that (Niagara’s ‘no-local-circulation’ status) change soon,” and he repeated recommendations of health experts across Canada and around the globe that, except for leaving home to shop for food or for other essential reasons, people should stay home for now and avoid as much close contact with others as possible.

“It (the coronavirus) is not going to be gone in a few weeks,” said Dr. Hirji. “It is probably something we are going to have to deal with for a few months, to say the least.”

During the special session, councillors offered their approval to holding future meetings remotely or electronically if necessary, to avoid close contact with others while the risk of infection remains.

Bradley noted earlier that the Region has to make plans to continue its operations under whatever circumstances emerge.

“While we certainly hope for the best,” he said, “we must plan for the least favourable outcome.”

Now here is a News Release from Niagara’s Regional government on the formation of a Niagara Economic Rapid Response Team to help local businesses through this ongoing coronavirus crisis-

Niagara Regional Headquarters in Thorold

March 18th, 2020 – Niagara’s Mayors and Regional Chair have announced a joint effort to support local businesses impacted by COVID-19 with a region-wide Niagara Economic Rapid Response Team.

As we go through this unprecedented and quickly-changing situation, it is critical to work together to support local businesses and employers both now and into the future. Building on a strong foundation of collaboration, the Rapid Response Team will go beyond municipal borders to be as responsive and flexible as possible to the needs of Niagara’s business community

The Rapid Response Team will be comprised of professional economic development staff across Niagara’s municipalities who will work together to respond to the changing needs of local business and employers. The team response will allow municipal resources to go beyond municipal boundaries and that all local businesses receive timely, responsive support.

The Rapid Response Team is already working together to survey business needs, advocate on behalf of Niagara’s business community and help keep business going. The Team is compiling information about federal and provincial support programs that have been announced for businesses and employers. The Team will also consider adjusting local business programs in response to changing needs.

Business owners can contact their local economic development office or<> where emails will be triaged and connected quickly with a member of the Niagara Economic Rapid Response Team.

The Team was formed by: Dave Bylsma, Mayor of West Lincoln; Jeff Jordan, Mayor of Grimsby; Frank Campion, Mayor of Welland; Marvin Junkin, Mayor of Pelham; Jim Diodati, Mayor of Niagara Falls; Wayne Redekop, Mayor of Fort Erie; Betty Disero, Lord Mayor of Niagara-on-the-Lake; Walter Sendzik, Mayor of St. Catharines; Sandra Easton, Mayor of Lincoln; Bill Steele, Mayor of Port Colborne; Kevin Gibson, Mayor of Wainfleet;Terry Ugulini, Mayor of Thorold; and Jim Bradley, Niagara Regional Chair

If you would like to watch a video of this March 18th, 2020, special meeting of Niagara’s Regional Council, click on the following link and scroll the red bar at the bottom left hand corner of the screen to the 13:55 minute mark  –

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