suspended all Local States Of Emergency in the province, Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain has responded to the order expressing his disappointment with the provincial order calling it unfortunate.
In another lengthy chapter to his library of Facebook posts since the weekend on the need for local control of the COVID-19 response, the Mayor observes how the province does not understand localized issues.
"In their role, it is unfortunately difficult to understand the many localized and specific issues that their team just does not have the time to see or address. These issues have been brought forward to us by our physicians and we believed as communities with limited resources that we needed to act now before it was too late. "
Stating that he has always been a team player with the province and how he has been very upset with them during his almost six years as Mayor, he will in the interest of unity for the province and community has "stayed on message and gone with the flow"
Among just a few of his themes in his Facebook post on:
This means that all localized orders that we have put in place based on the recommendations of our local physicians are no longer enforceable by the law and are suspended.
The Province says that this is to ensure an 'all government' response to COVID-19. In so many ways I agree with that.
However, we cannot be effective if we are stripped of the power to enforce local provisions that make sense for the situational issues on the ground.
They unfortunately believe that these measures have been causing panic, are 'patchwork', and are not inspiring confidence.
Folks, I will let YOU be the judge if that is a true reflection of how you have been feeling about our regional leadership.
So now their message is clear: we must wait for the Province to tell us what to do.
Mr. Brain makes note of some of the new provisions of the Provincial State of Emergency, with the Mayor continuing with his review by observing on some of those requirements.
We are to give them a list of our needs, respond to requests for information and supplies, and make all our facilities available to them. They also suggested that our 1 bylaw officer should go enforce their provincial orders...
Mr. Brain also recounts some of the recent themes that the City had presented in the lead up to the now suspended Local Declaration and if the Premier was looking to see any local anxiety levels reduced by the Provincial order, the Mayor it would appear is not quite onboard.
What scares me the MOST now is we must wait for someone in Victoria to figure out that all people coming off of flights into Prince Rupert / Terrace / PG, or driving in from any location whatsoever should be forced to self-isolate for 14 days unless they are essential services and are not showing symptoms.
To us and our physicians, that just makes sense. To them, it was us going against the grain.
At this point, I am putting it all on the line for our community and region - and I am doing what I believe is right based on sound medical advice on the ground.
Only history will judge who made the right decisions here or not.
You all read the letters from our physicians who have been sounding the alarm regarding what is really going on and why we needed to react differently up in the north.
The issues in the lower mainland vs rural communities are complex and nuanced. It takes time to figure out what the right approach is and right now, we just don't have the time to have the Province figure it out for us.
Over the past week and a half our communities have had major pressure from those above us to not declare a local state of emergency. In fact, we were told directly that if we declared a local state of emergency, they would rescind our orders.
The Mayor also takes some offence to the approach that MLA Jennifer Rice and the Provincial government have taken in their approach to the COVID-19 response and then goes on to state that the City will now shift to Recommended local orders.
At this juncture, your MLA Jennifer Rice and her colleagues at the Province believe they know best how to protect you and your families up here.
Only time will tell who did what was right and acted fast enough.
Luckily for us, we weren't afraid and made some big moves when we had the chance. We bought our doctors and nurses some valuable time. We got our community more solid as a team. We are more united as a region than ever before because of our actions (I don't see panic, I don't see confusion - just unity and pride).
So here's what we are going to do: on top of promoting all provincial orders, we are going to make 'recommended' local orders anyway.
Yes, we have no way to enforce them, and we have no way to ask you to do anything legally speaking.
But, I believe the people are with us. I believe you understand why we are doing what we are doing. We need your support now more than ever.
We are taking our direction from our physicians on the ground and I believe we just need to do what we need to do. Period.
The only way it happens is all organizations, unions, industry, businesses and residents believe that we should enact localized provisions together and make it the law of the land ANYWAY.
The Mayor also states, apparently on behalf of all of Council and without any public debate, that a range of community issues moving forward should be directed to the local MLA's office.
Unfortunately any community issues moving forward regarding housing, childcare, homelessness, etc are to be sent to Jennifer Rice's office as her and her team are now in control. You can forward your concerns to Jennifer Rice by calling 250-624-7734 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can review the Mayor's entire treatise of discontent with the provincial ruling from his Facebook page here.