High COVID numbers concentrated at local LTCH
by Lisha Van Nieuwenhove
The Township of Uxbridge has almost doubled its number of COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, and the majority of these are at a local long-term care home (LTCH). As of 3 p.m., Tuesday, ReachView Village had reported 58 of the 71 confirmed cases in Uxbridge. According to Durham Region’s COVID-19 Data Tracker, of those 58, 40 cases are residents, 18 are staff. Ten residents have already passed away from the virus.
The quick rise in numbers is being partially attributed to the layout and physical limitations of the building, located at 130 Reach St. Originally opened in 1975, the building is constructed in a square pattern, and most of the rooms are designed to hold four residents at a time. It also has only one central dining room.
Larry Roberts, senior manager of corporate affairs for Revera, the company that owns ReachView Village, said that, although the team deals with outbreaks all the time, “it’s challenging when there’s four [residents] to a room – trying to separate them is a challenge in itself. Plus, many of the people in our long-term care homes have cognitive issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s, and they don’t want to move, they don’t want the change. We’ve had to decide that we would rather deal with the inconveniences and anxieties caused by this, rather than see people we care about get sick.”
Roberts also said that ReachView is “is doing everything it can to care for residents while also doing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting to prevent the spread of the virus.”
ReachView Village did not declare an outbreak of the coronavirus until April 15.
“Our teams are trained to deal with outbreaks but with COVID-19, because it spreads very quickly, and because people haven’t any immunity, it’s a very challenging thing.”
Ward 3 councillor Bruce Garrod, who is the council representative on the Age-Friendly Committee, says that he has a long-term answer for the situation at ReachView, but he doesn’t know how to stop the outbreak of COVID-19.
“We simply need a new long-term care facility here in Uxbridge,” said Garrod, “and we need it sooner than later. The physical layout of the building now – it’s a real hinderance.”
Garrod said that he has been communicating with ReachView on a regular basis, offering the township’s assistance, if necessary.
According to Garrod, Revera has applied to the provincial government for permission to build a new long-term care facility in partnership with the new hospital that will be built in Uxbridge, but that, given the current situation with the novel coronavirus, that application is likely on the back burner for now.
Of the remaining 13 COVID-19 cases reported in Uxbridge, eight have been in home isolation and/or resolved, one has been hospitalized and four have died. For daily updates, visit durham.ca/covidcases
COVID-19 Uxbridge Update
As of 8 p.m., Thursday, May 28, Uxbridge has 76 reported and confirmed cases in the township. Twenty-six of these cases are currently in home isolation (this includes residents in long-term care and retirement homes); 35 cases have been resolved, and one is currently hospitalized. Fourteen residents have passed away from the virus – all but one of these were LTCH and RH residents.
For current updates on the status of COVID-19 cases in Durham Region, check back here or visit the COVID-19 Data Tracker at durham.ca/covidcases
Culvert and closures costing the town
by Roger Varley
On Monday, the long-awaited closure of Brock Street West took place with the erection of concrete barriers and steel fencing to prevent traffic travelling east from Toronto St. or west from Bascom St.
The closure was supposed to happen much earlier this year but was delayed, in part because of damage to the Coffee Time due to the culvert construction. During a teleconference last Friday, Mayor Dave Barton said the problems at Coffee Time forced project engineers to take a different look at how they continued with the project. He said engineers were cautious about going further south with the project because they didn’t want to cause more damage on the north side of the street, or see any damage to buildings on the south side of the street.
“Coffee Time changed the way work is being done,” he said.
The street closure is slated to last four months. Public Works director Ben Kester said it was prudent to announce a four-month closure in case construction crew run into any water problems He said the first two weeks of the closure will be used to prepare the site for the work.
Kester said digging up Brock St. will not impact Bell lines or gas lines running under the road but residents in the area might experience some power outages or water cut offs during the construction.
Brock St. is closed just east of the Roxy Theatres to allow cars to drop off people and turn around. At the other end, the street is closed just west of Bascom St. There is pedestrian access to stores on lower Brock St.
Kester said the project is expected to be completed in late autumn, with cleanup work and work that can’t be completed in cold weather scheduled for the spring. He said the municipal parking lot under which much of the culvert lies will remain much as it was before construction started, although Barton said council will be looking at changes once the work is completed.
Barton said the cost of the project still sits at $24.3 million.Of the original $10 million quote – (which Councillor Bruce Garrod, chair of the finance committee, said Tuesday “was never a real number”) – the federal, provincial, regional and township governments all agreed to pay $2.5 million each. However, since that time, the cost of the project has ballooned, yet neither the federal nor provincial governments have increased their share of the costs. Garrod said the region has increased its share to a total of $5.25 million, leaving Uxbridge to cover the remaining $14.05 million. Garrod said this would be covered by various debentures, the eventual sale of the old fire hall on Bascom St. and the Coffee Time/Circle K property, money already designated for the project, reserves and the tax base. (see story below for more detail)
Township on hook for $14m for culvert
by Roger Varley
What was originally sold to Uxbridge taxpayers as a $10 million project to build a new culvert under Brock Street West will now end up costing the township just over $14 million.
Of the original $10 million – (which Councillor Bruce Garrod, chair of the finance committee, said Tuesday “was never a real number”) – the federal, provincial, regional and township governments all agreed to pay $2.5 million each. However, since that time, the cost of the project has ballooned to $24.3 million, yet neither the federal nor provincial governments have increased their share of the costs. Garrod said the region has increased its share to a total of $5.25 million. That leaves Uxbridge to cover the remaining $14.05 million.
In a report to council last September, treasurer Donna Condon attributed the increase to several factors, not the least of which was the purchase of the Coffee Time/Circle K property for $3 million. The delay caused by the purchase negotiations, said Condon, led to increased costs for labour, equipment and fuel. American President Donald Trump added to the cost by $400,000, the report said, with the U.S. move to put tariffs on Canadian steel. Another $800,00 increase resulted from the removal of contaminated soil from the site, which the report said was not anticipated.
Garrod said the $14.05 million would be covered by various debentures, the eventual sale of the old fire hall on Bascom Street and the Coffee Time/Circle K property, money already designated for the project, reserves and the tax base.
TOWN HALL – Notes from the May 25 Council Meeting
by Roger Varley
Downtown store decries lack of information: In a letter brought before council on Monday, the owner of The Lemonade Stand on lower Brock Street West complained about a lack of information to area businesses about the closure of the road for culvert construction.
Lee Hawn said she had a number of questions that had remained unanswered for her, including whether the sidewalk would be open and if it was, which portions? Hawn, noting that she had lost all confidence in the township’s timelines regarding the culvert construction, also wanted to know how the township would ensure the road closure does not last longer than the planned four months. She said she needed answers so that she could inform her customers how they can access her store.
Hawn said disruptions caused by the culvert project, combined with the two-month COVID-19 shutdown, have made it “almost next to impossible for a healthy business to survive. This is a lot for a small business to consume on their own.”
Councillor Willie Popp said Hawn’s letter indicated the level of impact of the culvert and COVID-19 on businesses. He said the COVID-19 shutdown did provide an opportunity to close Brock St., but the planned closure was delayed because of structural problems at the Coffee Time building caused by the construction. He said the closure announcement, coming on the heels of stores being allowed to open on a limited basis, did “cut the legs from under businesses.”
Popp offered there could be some days during the next four weeks when Brock would be temporarily reopened, and he urged residents to shop on lower Brock and support the merchants.
“We’re having a party: don’t come”: Uxbridge’s Canada Day celebrations this year, if they occur at all, will be a much abbreviated version of the traditional festivities – and the township doesn’t want you to attend.
In a report to council, recreation co-ordinator Hunter Jarvis said the Canada Day committee is recommending the celebration be limited to a fireworks show, with the pyrotechnics taking place at the Uxbridge Historical Centre, which overlooks most of the downtown area. Jarvis said the idea is for residents to watch the fireworks from their homes. People will be discouraged from parking in the vicinity of the Historical Centre.
She said the committee will not be seeking sponsorships or donations as they have in the past and asked council’s approval to pay for the fireworks with the township’s $10,000 Canada Day budget
On the regional level, Jarvis said a virtual, pre-recorded three-hour long Canada Day broadcast – Canada Day the Durham Way – will consist of local artists and talent along with messages from Regional Chair John Henry and the mayors of each municipality.
The show will be broadcast on Durham Tourism’s website, streamed on the local Rogers channel and on each municipality’s respective websites.
Council voted to support Jarvis’ recommendation.
In a related matter, council received a letter from Dave Dickie of the Uxbridge Fall Fair outlining challenges that will be faced by organizers of large events. Mayor Barton, noting that “large events (this year) are most likely a write-off,” suggested that the subject of post-COVID-19 events that are not run by the township be added to the list of items to be discussed at budget time.
Pet food bank ensures furry friends aren’t forgotten
by Lisha Van Nieuwenhove
A few local volunteers have made sure that, while people face financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, they won’t have to choose between feeding their family or the family pet – they can do both.
The Emergency Uxbridge-Scugog Pet Food Bank is setting up shop right across the road from the Uxbridge Loaves & Fishes Food Bank, in the parking lot of the township municipal offices at 51 Toronto St. S.
“A lot of people are hurting now, the last thing we want them to do is give up their animals,” says Mel Diebel, a founder of the pet food bank and a volunteer with Barn Cat Co-op, a local rescue that deals mostly with feral cats in Uxbridge.
Diebel says that, although her rescue has unofficially been giving out pet food for years, the onset of the pandemic really put need at the forefront of their operation.
“Barn Cat had food donated, so we started giving it out. We thought we knew the demand but we were way off, and it got to the point where me and my rescue partner were going out and buying food just to hand out!” recalls Diebel.
Other shelters and rescues in Durham Region have pet food banks associated with them, but Uxbridge-Scugog is a vacuum in this regard. Diebel says other shelters and rescues have been “filling her truck” (she talked to the Cosmos as she was on her way to a shelter to do a donation pick-up), and that so far the organization hasn’t had to say no to anyone who has come to them for help.
All Uxbridge and Scugog residents who need pet food can go to the Township of Uxbridge offices between 1 and 4 p.m. on Wednesdays. The day, time and location was chosen to work in conjunction with Uxbridge Loaves & Fishes Food Bank in order to allow access both services. “We really want people to know it [the pet food bank] exists so they can use it!” says Diebel. “People who need help should feel comfortable coming to us for help.”
If residents would like to donate pet food, they’re asked to stop by the Uxbridge distribution site during the final hour of operation (3 – 4 p.m.), or email UxScPetFoodBank@gmail.com to make arrangements. Diebel says there is a great need for dry cat food at the present time.
‘Stop the Spread’ – Durham police provide civilian reporting
The Durham Region Police Service has adjusted its response protocol for gatherings of more than five people, as required under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Citizens can now report a gathering of more than five people or a non-compliant business on www.drps.ca under Online Services – Community Concerns.
Citizens can also call the non-emergency line at 1-888-579-1520, ext. 5802 and leave a message. The DRPS will endeavor to respond to these calls in a timely manner; however, its focus continues to be on emergency calls for service.
Call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659 for clarification whether a situation falls under the non-compliance orders. Assistance is available Monday to Sunday, from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information visit ontario.ca/stopthespread
For the most up-to-date public information about COVID-19 in Durham Region, refer to www.durham.ca/NovelCoronavirus Citizens can contact Durham Public Health via email at email@example.com or by phone at 1-800-841-2729 or 905-668-2020.
Reports regarding price gouging must go directly to the Province of Ontario. File a complaint at 1-800-889-9768 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, or file a report online at ontario.ca/form/report-price-gouging-related-covid-19