KAWARTHA LAKES: The City of Kawartha Lakes expects to have a larger winter population this year, due to a number of people not flying to the United States because of the COVID-19 pandemic during their winter holidays .
At a meeting on Tuesday, October 20th, during a pandemic update, CAO Ron Taylor said, one thing the city will be monitoring is the number of seasonal residents who stay in the community this year.
“We have about 25,000 seasonal residents. I suspect a large portion of those will be remaining in our community over the winter. So, that is a 25 percent increase in our overall population,” CAO Taylor explained.
Mayor Andy Letham has heard from a number of snowbirds who plan to stay in the municipality this winter. During a telephone press conference, on Wednesday, October 21st, the Mayor explained, “I’m hearing, a lot of snowbirds will be staying this year. I’m hearing, a few are still planning to go down south, but from what I’m hearing personally, a lot more I’ve talked to are planning to stay here for the winter,”
The Mayor has some ideas about how to accommodate a larger seniors population this winter. “We’re really just talking about some of the basic services. Walkability [is one thing], winter can be a tough time and making sure we have the services available to keep some of our sidewalks in certain areas as clear as possible [is good to look at.] ” He added, they could also add a temporary walking track to an arena, use another facility to hold safe get togethers, or increase the number of public skating events.
But a larger winter population will not be a factor in the speed of reopening more city services. “We’re going to take it slow and steady. It’s going to depend on what phase we are in,” Mayor Letham explained. “I’m not sure even an increase in population will increase the opening of services, as people need to feel comfortable.”
The Mayor also weighed in on how a higher winter population could potentially impact attempts to halt the spread of COVID-19. “I think the winter, with people being indoors, makes it a little bit tougher. Maybe there’s more of a potential with that. With more people, there’s going to be more potential for numbers to increase, as there is with increased testing. I think if everybody just: takes care of themselves, follows the proper protocols, makes good decisions, and uses common sense we’ll get through it just fine. We just can’t get complacent.”
A possible positive effect of a larger winter population is more business for stores and restaurants in Kawartha Lakes.
“I think having a bigger winter population will assist our businesses over the winter, absolutely. They’ll need to buy groceries, they’ll need to buy supplies and clothes, some of that they usually do down south. I think that’ll be a win for our businesses, [which] they don’t usually get. Every little bit is going to help. I think it’s going to be a tough winter regardless, but our businesses seem to be doing a wonderful job at creating a safe atmosphere for people,” Mayor Letham stated.
Dan Cearns, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Standard Newspaper