A message from the Mayor – April 20, 2020

Dear citizens:

It will soon be a month since we, along with the large majority of the planet, have been confined to our homes, except for essential reasons. As I stated in my last editorial, we should be proud of the way we are reacting to the current pandemic. I still believe that we are living in the best place to get through it.

As our Premier said, better days are ahead and we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, we will regain certain freedoms in upcoming weeks and months. Yes, the majority of businesses will certainly be able to reopen and we will return to a more normal routine in our daily lives. However, one thing is certain, we must learn to live and work with certain severe social distancing measures for a good period of time, as Public Health authorities have repeated on several occasions. But I am ready to do so and strictly follow the measures when the times comes. I will do so for me, for us, for you, for our seniors and for our future generations. The situation at the Arbour-Leblanc IGA grocery store that was made public last Friday is a serious reminder about the importance of remaining vigilant at all times. I would like to inform you that I was in contact with Public Health authorities concerning this specific case, as well as the owners of the store as soon as the situation was revealed. In fact, I would like to note the professionalism and the efficiency of the IGA management, their staff and the Public Health department. When I spoke with the owners, I was greatly reassured by the measures taken by IGA in light of the current circumstances. Our population should not have any doubts about their commitment to their clients and their health. I would like to to commend the dedication of essential service employees who continue to work and serve us in uncomfortable conditions.

Many of you have asked me how I envision the upcoming tourist season. I honestly must tell you that I believe it will definitely be different and less intense. Will the regions still be closed? Will campgrounds be open and if they are, what measures will be in application? I cannot answer these questions at the present time. We must wait to receive the directives from Public Health authorities. However, I do know that many of our events will not take place and this in compliance with the directives that were recently issued concerning the cancellation of festivals and public sports and cultural events up to August 31st. This situation does not mean that we cannot, as Gaspesians, take advantage of the summer season in our own way. As for the municipality, we will make sure that our town will be as beautiful and in full bloom as usual in order to add a bit of happiness and cheerfulness to the daily lives of all of our citizens.

People have also been asking about the opening of the Bruce-Ritchie Pool and the summer Day Camp for our children. Others have asked about the fall season of the Salle de spectacles régionale Desjardins of New Richmond. In response to these questions, I must respond by stating that we will comply with governmental regulations and we will strictly adhere to them with one purpose in mind: the health of our community.

From an economic perspective, the situation is complex for many members of our business community. Many have good reason be to concerned about the way consumers will react when they re-open. Many members of the business community have assured me that they will definitely be ready and eager to open after the current crisis, while others have many lingering doubts. I would like to remind you that the Government of Quebec and the Government of Ottawa have set up many programs to support businesses in all sectors. I have also made certain that the “economic development” department of the MRC de Bonaventure will also do its share. Therefore I encourage all of the members of the business community who have questions and who require assistance to contact the team at the MRC at 418-752-6601. Our economic advisors would be pleased to assist you and provide you with the information you require.

On the municipal level, we are currently studying a specific measure that would allow us to stand out and help enterprises rebound after the current difficult time, and this, in function of the powers and restrictions imposed on us by Law. The financial aid program included in our Strategic Plan of Actions is advantageous and it could inspire us to go even further. We will take the time to make the right decisions, and not rush to announce things that are not completely finalized. We will also reflect upon our role as a central town and the corresponding financial implications. What type of town do we wish to be after COVID-19? Which direction should our region take after the crisis and what should we do to support this state of affairs? These are questions that must be asked and your Municipal Council will respond to them, while taking your opinions and ideas into account.

For now, I urge you to strictly follow the current restrictions and savour each moment of happiness. It’s going to be okay!

Éric Dubé