Rural municipalities ‘grinding to a halt’ in face of pandemic

COVID-19: Community centres and offices go dark in effort to protect residents

Rural municipalities ‘grinding to a halt’ in face of pandemic

Rural municipal leaders are rethinking how they govern and provide essential services in an era of social distancing due to COVID-19.

It’s “hurry up and wait to get everything in place,” said West Interlake Reeve Art Jonasson.

The RM of West Interlake has closed its office to the public, though staff will continue to work, Jonasson said.

The RM has given waste-management employees protocols, along with rubber gloves and masks with which to handle solid waste.

“We’re basically trying to follow the directions from the province,” Jonasson said.

Rec centres and community halls are also shut down, and events are cancelled at least until the end of April, he said.

“We’re slowly grinding to a halt,” he said.

He added that he’s trying to balance the message of social distancing with support for local business. Some restaurants are offering takeout service for instance.

The RM of Piney in southeastern Manitoba has implemented a pandemic plan, which it provided to the Manitoba Co-operator.

This has involved cancelling public meetings, and limiting government committee meetings.

“Every reasonable effort will be undertaken to maintain and continue services to ratepayers,” plan documents say.

However, according to the plan, the RM may (if required) move to limit public office hours, allow RM employees to work from home, place contractors on paid standby on a rotational basis to ensure availability for essential services, and implement measures that encourage prepayment of taxes, credit card payments, cheque payments and postdated payments among other measures.

Other municipalities, such as the RM of Deloraine-Winchester have shut down community halls and curling rinks, closed their offices to the public, and cancelled events.

About the author


Geralyn Wichers

Geralyn Wichers grew up on a hobby farm near Anola, Manitoba, where her family raised cattle, pigs and chickens. Geralyn graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in 2019 and was previously a reporter for The Carillon in Steinbach. Geralyn is also a published author of science fiction and fantasy novels.



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