Asserts continued operation a threat to residents’ health
Councillor Lisa Haun is calling on Pelham Town Council to order an immediate halt to the municipality’s public transit service.
Responding to a request for comment, in a strongly worded statement to the Voice, Haun says that she wants residents to know that she is concerned for their health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[I am] vehemently against continuing bus service in our town at this time,” says Haun. “I have communicated my strong position on this issue to the Emergency Control Group, to the CAO and Mayor. It is unfathomable that municipal transit continues to operate in Pelham given the Regional and municipal declaration of emergency.”
Haun, 44, worked as an Emergency Management Preparedness and Response Advisor with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation for a little over three years. She left the MTO in January and is now an independent emergency management consultant. She previously worked as an emergency management consultant in British Columbia before returning home to her native Fonthill in 2016.
“Continuing to operate our transit is an unacceptable risk—we need to take a stand now to protect our residents,” says Haun. “The town of Pelham has a large population of seniors who are highly vulnerable to COVID-19.”
Haun also asserts that with the recent appearance of various community efforts to make free deliveries of food and medical supplies to those in self-isolation, or who otherwise don’t wish to leave home, the need for public transit is substantially reduced.
Late this week, the province recommended that Ontarians over the age of 70 stay at home entirely, as they are thought to be at the greatest risk for serious COVID-19 complications.
“Continuing our transit service at this time is counterproductive to Mayor Junkin’s campaign to crush the curve and stay home,” says Haun. “I will be putting a motion forward at the next council meeting [to stop the transit service].”
Mayor Marvin Junkin says that the bus should keep running, pointing out that public transit continues in operation throughout the province, including in all Niagara municipalities that have such services, albeit on a reduced schedule.
“The Town has already reduced our service by half, meaning that we are only running one bus,” says Junkin. “If we eliminate this service, it will be the Town’s neediest residents who will suffer the most.”
Junkin says that bus passengers should be following the same physical distancing recommendations as they would elsewhere in public.
“I personally see no reason for a complete shutdown of a service deemed essential by the province.”
Town Council’s next meeting is set for this coming Monday, April 6.