Councillor pushes for end of lockdowns in CK

"Sorry We're Closed" sign. (Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels)

A local councillor is hoping that lockdowns in Chatham-Kent will be a thing of the past.

At the April 26 council meeting, Tilbury Councillor Mark Authier plans to bring forward a motion for voting asking that the municipality send a letter to Premier Doug Ford requesting that he stop the lockdowns in Chatham-Kent.

As a business owner himself, Authier said he knows first hand the impact that the lockdowns have had on residents’ livelihoods.

He said he believes it’s unfair to keep local businesses shut down given Chatham-Kent’s relatively low COVID-19 numbers compared to regions like Toronto and Peel.

“I feel that Chatham-Kent has done its part in keeping our COVID-19 numbers down,” said Authier. “I’m afraid our mental health numbers are going up and I do believe a lot of that is the lockdowns.”

Authier stresses that he’s not asking for the municipality to be completely exempt from provincial restrictions. Instead, he said he would like to see local businesses and restaurants be able to open back up again with the necessary safety measures in place, like when the municipality was in the red or orange level of the province’s reopening plan.

“It’s just a letter, it doesn’t mean it’s going to do anything at all and I understand that,” he said. “It’s just something I think the premier should see and know about.”

With municipal elections happening next year, Authier also said he wants to clear up any discussions that his motion could some sort of election ploy since he intends not to run for reelection in 2022.

Since Monday night, when he gave his notice of motion, Authier said most feedback he’s received has been in favour of sending the letter, although there have been a few people opposed to it.

He said he understands not everyone may agree, but he’s urging people to keep the discussions civil.

“If you disagree that’s fine,” said Authier. “If you agree, that’s great too. I do ask people who agree and who disagree both to let council know so they can make an informed decision.”

If local case counts or ICU submissions were to start climbing, Authier said that would open up a different discussion. He also said that he doesn’t want his motion to give people the idea that he doesn’t care about COVID-19, noting that his own daughter contracted the virus and he recognizes it should be taken seriously.

“I do care about people in Chatham-Kent,” he said. “My parents are in their 80s and I would hate for them to get COVID-19, but we also cannot have the mental health issues that we’re having due to this.”