Thunder Bay

'Dynamic and fluid situation': Thunder Bay officials revisit municipal decisions ahead of virtual town hall

The City of Thunder Bay reversed its decision to close municipally owned cemeteries on Monday, which will allow for the reopening of Mountain View and St. Patrick’s Cemeteries to the public.

Mayor Bill Mauro is hosting a virtual town hall on Tuesday night

The City of Thunder Bay reversed its decision to close municipally owned cemeteries on Monday. Thunder Bay Mayor, Bill Mauro, said the original decision was made by city administration based on provincial orders concerning cemeteries last week. City Manager Norm Gale said the changes announced were made to balance the health and safety of the public and staff at municipally owned cemeteries. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

The City of Thunder Bay reversed its decision to close municipally owned cemeteries on Monday, which will allow for the reopening of Mountain View and St. Patrick's cemeteries to the public.

Thunder Bay Mayor, Bill Mauro, said the original decision was made by city administration based on provincial orders concerning cemeteries last week.

"They are allowing cemeteries to host funerals up to a maximum of ten [people]. But visitation wasn't considered essential so the administration had made a decision that they were going to just close them completely," said Mauro in an interview with CBC.

Mauro said he asked city administration to "revisit" the decision on Friday, adding that a number of councillors were concerned about the decision.

"In a dynamic and fluid situation, we are continuously evaluating our services and operations... the changes announced today for the cemeteries are made to balance the health and safety of the public and our staff and the needs of family and friends for visitation," said City Manager Norm Gale in a media release on Monday.

According to the city, people visiting cemeteries will not be permitted to use amenities such as water taps and benches until the Provincial Declaration of Emergency is lifted.

Mauro said the reversal of the decision is an example of how quickly situations surrounding COVID-19 are changing, and how municipal decisions are still frequently made amid the pandemic.

"There are still decisions being made around certain services that are closing or being pulled back...at the same time you're seeing some organizations, some municipalities pushing for the province to allow them to begin some reopening of their economies so it's a bit of an odd time," he said.

Mauro added that most closures of businesses and services are a result of provincial orders, and the decision to reopen the economy "will rest both with the federal government, primarily with the province."

City to address concerns through virtual town hall

The city of Thunder Bay is hosting a virtual town hall on Tuesday night, where Mauro and Dr. Janet DeMille, Thunder Bay District Health Unit medical officer of health, will answer questions from the public.

The town hall will be hosted on online platforms, and Mauro says he expects to give an update on city services and will  address concerns surrounding various municipal entities.

"There is concern about vulnerable populations, what we can do for food banks and homelessness, and a lot of issues like that, and city services generally," he said.

The town hall will be broadcast live on the city's official social media channels, SHAW TV, the Tbaytel Community Channel and the City's website starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21.

Questions will be taken live on the phone and through an online chat on the city's website during the broadcast.

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