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State of emergency gives city power to ramp up enforcement

No bylaw changes have been put in place as of yet
Mayor Brian Bigger. (File)

Mayor Brian Bigger declared a state of emergency in the city of Greater Sudbury on April 6, but for the time being it doesn't sound as though much will change in the day-to-day lives of Sudburians.

Sudbury's state of emergency will run concurrent with the province's state of emergency that has been in place since March 17.

The mayor called the situation "truly unprecedented" and that he will be using everything in his power to protect the citizens of Greater Sudbury, including the most vulnerable citizens, seniors and the homeless.

The state of emergency allows the mayor and council to amend or create bylaws more expeditiously should they be called for. In issuing his statement today, Bigger commended the efforts of the city's residents, but insisted that they can still work harder. 

"We're still seeing people doing things they shouldn't be: I'm concerned that grocery stores are too full; we're still receiving complaints about block parties and yard sales," said Bigger.

"We're seeing people organizing yard sales for example, and inviting people essentially to gather in groups. Do I really need to create a bylaw to reinforce that that's not acceptable, when people are supposed to be socially isolating? If I do, if we continue to have those complaints then perhaps we'll have to create a bylaw to stop people from having yard sales."

While the state of emergency declaration does allow the city to respond more quickly and effectively to concerns, as well as streamline their decision-making powers, no decisions have been made as of yet and no bylaw changes have been put into place.

"Things are changing on an hourly and daily basis," said Bigger. "It also gives us the ability to protect volunteers. If there were the need to call on volunteers to assist us in response and supporting the community, we would be able to provide protection for them through the workers compensation board."

Bigger explained that the city has been implementing all of the measures that have been recommended by Public Health Sudbury & Districts medical officer of health Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, as well as following federal and provincal directions relating to addressing COVID-19.

"I believe our residents have been listening intently to news broadcasts and watching very closely what the latest direction is," said Bigger.

In the event that Sudburians aren't adhering to the advice of experts however, the city's state of emergency will give the mayor and council the ability to enact bylaws that could result in fines for residents who aren't adhering to directions set out by health professionals.

"In order to reduce the potential for increased infections and fatalities, we must stay home. Try to plan essential trips outside our homes, plan to shop once a week and shop alone."