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Council considering further Covid relief measures for residents, businesses

Mayor and council considering relief measures to help residents and businesses struggling financially with current pandemic restrictions
2019-03-20-separated city
Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Rob Keffer, pictured at a March 19 council meeting in 2019. Jenni Dunning/BradfordToday

As Simcoe-Muskoka enters the Grey Zone on Monday, Bradford West Gwillimbury Mayor Rob Keffer is asking council to consider some relief measures for those struggling to pay property taxes. 

The proposal will be discussed at this Tuesday's town council meeting. 

"At the very least, I will be pushing council to have no penalty and zero interest on overdue accounts," said the mayor in a Facebook post on Saturday. 

At the March 2 meeting of council, there will be some resolutions to make sure small businesses are protected, he said.

"This action, along with passing a 2021 budget with a zero per cent tax increase, a zero per cent water bill increase, a decrease in councillor's pay, and no new hires are a continuation of the commitment we have made to you over the past year to do what we can as a town to support you through the pandemic," he wrote. 

Ward 1 Coun. Raj Sandhu expressed his frustration with the looming lockdown on Facebook Saturday.

"I can understand that health authorities, provincial & federal government want to bring the cases down for COVID-19. But do they truly understand the frustration and situation of our small businesses?" he said. "If they want to stop the spread then why are flights still coming in to our country?"

"Our staff has been working full tilt to bring employees back and open facilities per the guidelines and now today they had to cancel recalling employees. How is this fair for the employees who are waiting to return to work?"

"I request our Provincial and Federal governments that before you decide to bail out million / billion dollors worth of big companies please help out the small businesses that are backbone of any community," he said.

Ward 2 Coun. Jonathan Scott also made a post on Saturday addressing the frustration of many about the lockdown.

"I know many of our small businesses are angry, frustrated and yet again wondering how to make ends meet," he said. "The sad reality is that Town Council is limited in what we can do at the municipal level when decisions are taken in Ottawa or at Queen’s Park."

He encouraged all businesses to look into the various grant and support program offered through the provincial and federal governments.

Scott said he specifically wants a second deferral program and late fees waived, but this time by request.

Council have implemented various programs and measures to support local businesses and residents throughout the pandemic. 

Earlier this month, council gave the green light for the temporary patio program to resume again for the 2021 season. 

Small business relief funds of up to $5000 were given out in the first month of the pandemic. The town also provided relief on tax and utility payments for residents 

The Bradford Community Centre opened to assist those in need with a free lunch and place to shower . Emergency funds were made available through a partnership with Contact South Simcoe. 

"With the vaccine rollout set to begin in BWG next week, and a new vaccine just approved, the finish line of this terrible pandemic is in sight," said the mayor. "This is a time to take care of one another and not tear each other down." 

Keffer encourages everyone to continue to support local businesses as much as possible, whether it's through takeout, purchasing a giftcard or sharing a positive review online. 

"Our Town Council has stepped up in the past and we will continue to do so. BWG is a great community with a strong tradition of looking out for one another – we are proud to be a part of that and grateful for all you do to help."