There seems to be some confusion by some members of the public as to why the Town of Aurora is still operating in a state of emergency during the second wave of this Covid-19 pandemic. One member of council was even questioning during a council meeting if there is a specific date as to when the emergency order will end while daily infections are on the increase.
To better understand why a state of emergency is needed at this time, and into the foreseeable future is to see how Mayors in neighbouring towns are using their emergency orders to address and control the spread. We need only to look as far as Newmarket as it was reported on December 7th that their Mayor John Taylor enacted a 30 day emergency order allowing bylaw officers to ticket businesses not complying with COVID-19 measures. That order can be revoked or extended if necessary after the 30 days elapses.
This displays the commitment the Town of Newmarket has to protect its citizens through action, not just continuous word spew from talking heads, news pieces that only little more than recommendations and suggestions or the obligatory selfie.
Has Aurora taken the same measure as Newmarket? I’m sure it has but am unable to find any press release or news report that says one way or another, and the lack of professional communications from the town’s communications department and its’ poorly cobbled together website do nothing to aid in getting clear and concise answers.
Finding any of these details anywhere seems to require an inordinate amount of effort, even at the regional level where they report the enforcement of Covid19 regulations through a hard to discover link on their Covid-19 page.
Interestingly enough if you scroll down this page there is a chart that shows charges by enforcement agency over a period of time:
We see that through December 7th to 13th that Newmarket conducted 144 inspections but laid 0 charges. By comparison during the same time the Town of Aurora issued only 46 inspections but laid 2 charges.
Aurora had a 4% non compliance rate where Newmarket was 100% compliant and Aurora only conducted 30% of the number of inspections Newmarket did. Newmarket didn’t have to educate any of the establishments they inspected where Aurora had to educate all 46 of them.
Wow. That alone should be reason for pause for anyone dumb enough to believe there is date set for lifting the state of emergency.
What is even more eye opening is if one takes the time to dig a level deeper. The websites is designed in such a way to bury information as well as only providing it through a breakdown by date, not municipality as I am doing here.
For between the dates of December 7th-13th we find that 5 establishments were charged in Aurora, 2 of them by the town:
Note that one of these is the Metro grocery store at the south end of town. How many Aurorans were aware of this?
For between the dates of November 30th – December 6th we find that 3 establishments were charged in Aurora:
Note that one of these is the Walmart store at the east end of town. How many Aurorans were aware of this?
And on November 27th:
Records are not available prior to November 27th. It is unclear if inspections were made prior to this date of if the region simply choses to purge that data from its website. The Region inexplicably only hold 2 years of public health infraction data.
On a side note how much of a penalty or deterrent is an $800 fine to Metro or Walmart? This is likely seen as a cost of doing business and penalties should be adjusted both regionally and the town to reflect the square footage of the business in correspondence with the number of patrons it can service at one time.
Also curios is why these regional enforcement efforts are not done in a similar fashion to how York Region does their health inspections. Following these inspections signs are placed in the windows of establishments. Unfortunately these notices are a binary of red and green and not as useful or nuanced as Toronto’s which have a yellow as I pointed out in a post back in March. Still why isn’t the Region using this same system to report these covid inspections where they occur?
How else are prospective shoppers supposed to inform themselves?
I’m seriously asking.
If we circle back to individual municipalities, where is there any mention of the establishments the Town of Aurora charged?
Why don’t I see any mention or links to these reports on the town’s website on their page for news & notices for covid 19?
Why doesn’t the Aurora Chamber of Commerce proactively address charges applied to their members on their own website?
Denial and suppression aren’t helpful during a pandemic. Openness, transparency, speed and leadership are.
The Error Banner reports out health infractions but I don’t see any mention of them in the Auroran, nor any of these covid charges? If local news outlets are afraid of reprisal from these businesses hurting their advertising revenue if they are mentioned then can we really trust local media to report them?
It is incredibly important for our municipal governments to do so, especially after declaring a state of emergency.
Aurora Mayor Tom Mrakas is constantly going on about fighting the provincial government to break from lockdowns, even claiming that “we can’t lockdown” during a time when we most assuredly need to and all the while encouraging everyone to #shoplocal.
Okay then, so how are Aurorans expected to be informed when they shop local? Where is the inclusion of all of the aforementioned charges in the daily reports the Mayor blasts out? It’s not like they are short of statistics, here’s a recent snapshot of one:
Reporting the names of the establishments charged by the town and the region separately along with dates and a running total is the very least he could do.
The very least.
Especially after observing the death of 329 York Region residents.
Not all local shops are equal, and not all deserve our business.
If you’re going to float around the slogan “we are all in this together” then own it. Businesses that have disregard for Aurorans safety need to be called out on it.
Everything is not okay.
Aurora is under a state of emergency.
It’s not enough to declare it, we need our elected officials to act like it.