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Town of Elk Point locks doors, cancels meetings

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ELK POINT - After a conference call special meeting on Monday afternoon, Elk Point town council declared closures of all town-owned facilities, and recommended closure of all recreation and cultural facilities. 

Director of Safety and Emergency Management Paul Perrier joined the conversation from St. Paul and said the County of St. Paul had “locked everything up” and sent all possible staff to work from home, with a skeleton staff looking after public works essentials. He indicated that representatives of Alberta Health Services would be coming to St. Paul on Thursday to survey potential sites in case a COVID-19 testing centre is needed. 

The closure of Elk Point facilities was next on the agenda, with CAO Ken Gwozdz reporting that it was “business as usual” on essential services performed by the Public Works department, although workers will not go into homes in the case of sewer blockage except in an emergency. The Public Works shop has been closed to the public 

The town’s administration office is also now closed to the public, with most staff, including recreation director Cristin Tchir, working from home, and Gwozdz said that along with the ability to pay bills at financial institutions or online, payments can be dropped through the mail slot by the entrance. “There will be no more face to face meetings, the town can be reached by email, phone and the mail slot. No one will be allowed in the town office, and the janitorial service has been suspended for 30 days, to prevent coming and going.” 

What about the March 23 meeting of town council? The meeting has a light agenda, Gwozdz said, and if his plans to have it set up for videoconferencing don’t work out, Mayor Lorne Young said, “we can do it the same as this (the special meeting).” 

Council then passed a motion closing those facilities to the public, with essential services to continue. 

Other local facilities, including the municipal library, A. G. Ross Arena, curling rink, riding arena and Arts and Leisure Centre would be contacted to ask that the facilities be closed. Elk Point and District Further Education had already indicated that they had closed their doors, and the library and arena have now indicated that they are closed also, with the Jim Vinge Memorial Hockey Tournament at the arena now cancelled. Curling season wound up last weekend, but a local group that meets at the rink will be contacted. 

“We’re trying our best,” Gwozdz said.  “Everything is postponed. It’s better to err on the side of caution, and we follow Alberta Health guidelines.”