By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
After a tumultuous first half to 2020, city council has gone on summer break, and Mayor Dan Carter is itching to return to the driver’s seat.
While speaking with The Oshawa Express, Carter says the first issue that comes to mind when coming out of summer break is the city’s economy.
“I think that there’s many different weighted issues. Getting the economy back up and running is really important, and working with businesses to make sure that our recovery is first and foremost,” says Carter.
The other big issue Carter hopes to address is keeping Oshawa healthy and safe.
“We’ve heard about the second wave, and I’m hoping that we won’t be part of the second wave, so I’m preparing for that,” he says.
He also notes as the city begins to prepare its next budget, it’s important that council keep the effect of COVID-19 on local businesses and taxpayers in mind.
“We’re really looking at how to get the economy back up and running, how we do it safely when we take into consideration the health and well-being of everybody, and continue to look at our financial strategy as we move forward,” says Carter.
However, the mayor has another issue in mind when council returns: homelessness and addiction in the City of Oshawa.
“We still are trying to make sure that every individual that has an addiction or a mental health issue – somebody that’s unsheltered and needs shelter – [is cared for],” says Carter. “I’m committed to making sure that one way or another that everybody is cared for in our community.”
He notes the city is looking ahead as well to the Fire Master Plan, which was delayed due to the pandemic.
“I think there’s a lot of important things on the horizon,” says Carter.
He says the city’s reopening team is also looking into having meetings in person again, having moved to electronic meetings due to COVID-19.
“We’ve looked at the physical aspects of council chambers and how we’ll protect the members, and also how we’ll protect our staff,” he says.
Carter credits city hall’s facility people with doing a “tremendous job” in getting the facility ready to host council meetings in a safe manner.
He’s confident that by September councillors will once again be back in council chambers.
“We’ll still be restricted in regards to what the provincial rules are regarding enclosed environments and how many people are allowed in that enclosed environment,” he says.
He adds in order to make sure councillors continue to practice social distancing when back in chambers, a number of physical investments and structures have been put in place.
Carter says he believes these structures will be able to keep people separated, and everyone will be wearing a mask for public safety.
“We’re going to be doing all of the highly recommended suggestions that have come from Health Canada,” he says, adding it’s a work in progress.
While council will have to keep an eye on what does work and what doesn’t, he says he’s pleased with the structural changes.
“It’s going to look awfully unusual because it’s so spread out, but I think it’s the right thing to do,” he says.