Don’t be a Larry

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Recently the Mayors of the Region of Peel – Patrick Brown of Brampton, Bonnie Crombie of Mississauga, and Allan Thompson of Caledon – pulled a Larry. Many of us will remember Larry Vaughan, the obdurate mayor of the fictional oceanside town of Amity, the setting for the Steven Spielberg movie Jaws.

To refresh: Larry wanted to keep the beaches open for the money that tourist season would bring to the local businesses, even in the face of well-bitten body parts piling up on the beach and scientific experts letting him know that death was swimming in the waters offshore.

But Larry ignored that evidence and expertise, and more death followed, and the beaches closed completely.

So when business owners came complaining to our Region of Peel Mayors, they naturally turned to the Province. Unfortunately, the Ford government had just appointed an “Expert Panel” of economic advisors who were all too ready to relax the restrictions recommended by the Chief Medical Officers of Canada, Ontario, Toronto, and Peel.

The new system is known as the COVID-19 response framework: keeping Ontario safe and open. More correctly it should be titled “Keeping Ontario Open and Safe” since it tends to be more economic than medical in intent. The levels go from Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red, and finally to LOCKDOWN,

Under the guise of “defending local business”, the government permitted the Region of Peel to move Peel Region to Red–Control level, a more business friendly level than the current modified Stage 2. The next day, The Region of Peel Public Health nixed that idea and imposed the more restrictive measures, specifically:

Peel Public Health is strongly urging all residents to: 
Restrict close contact to your household and essential supports
Cease all indoor social gatherings and visits (with exceptions for emergencies, renovations or one-on-teaching / tutoring) 
Limit outside trips to essential activities only, and 
Cancel, postpone or hold virtually any in-person activities.

Now, dear Mayors in the Region of Peel, when we are in the middle of a global pandemic with COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths climbing to new records each day, don’t be a Larry. Close the beaches. And business owners, yes, businesses will suffer during a pandemic of this scale. The Bubonic Plague was a real downer on local economics unless you were a casket maker or gravedigger.

I live in Caledon, home to 85,000 souls, only a small percentage of whom are local business owners and their employees. In fact, the five biggest employers in Caledon are Delegant Construction, Mars Foods, Canadian Tire Distribution Centre, Verdi Construction, and Husky Injection Mouldings.

In Caledon, blessed with abundant walking and hiking trails and bubbling springs, surely we don’t need any fitness clubs and bars open as indoor venues to disperse virus laden droplets and aerosols, when we can exercise in the fresh air and drink spring water.

We are in the middle of the health crisis of the decade, perhaps the century. Listen to the medical and scientific expertise intended to protect the health and safety of the entire community. The coronavirus is saying, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” Remember that you are the Mayors of all of the citizens of the Region of Peel, not just the business owners. When it comes time to pay the bill, the tab is on you.

The way I see it.

Skid Crease, Caledon

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