2020 has been a year unlike any other and one I certainly would never want to see us repeat, but over and over again our community has shown that we truly are in this together. I am looking forward to when we can join with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues in ways that we used to take for granted. This holiday season will be a different one – quieter and simpler, but hopefully also one which reminds us of the many blessings we have.

My Holiday Message to you is also a different one. One of my goals as Mayor is to provide information to residents on important issues; I want to ensure you have the resources you need about the impact on municipal services from the provincial shutdown as well as holiday closures. This week, Premier Doug Ford announced a province-wide shutdown which will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on December 26. In our area, the shutdown will be in place for a period of 28 days.

The Municipal Emergency Control Group met twice this week to discuss the new provincial regulations and their implications. The Control Group meets on a regular basis and is compromised of myself, Deputy Mayor Minnille, CAO Kelly, Chief Brown as the Community Emergency Management Coordinator and senior staff. My thanks to our dedicated staff who quickly adapted to the required changes of the provincial shutdown.

To comply with the new Provincial Orders, changes will be in place for municipal services in the areas of childcare, the library, culture and recreation. Details about the full impact on municipal services in Mississippi Mills can be viewed here on our website: https://tinyurl.com/ProvincialShutdown. I want to assure residents that essential municipal services including snow and ice control, waste collection, water and sewer and fire protection remain fully staffed and operational.

The Municipal Office will be closed from noon on December 24 until 8:30 a.m. on January 4. If you have a Public Works Emergency during this time, such as a water main break, please call the After-Hours Emergency Pager: 613-256-3167. A reminder that residents can put out a second garbage container without a bag tag during the week immediately following Christmas Day and the week immediately following New Year’s Day. The holiday garbage and recycling schedule can be viewed here: https://tinyurl.com/MMHolidaySchedule

Rest assured that both staff and I will continue to monitor the current situation throughout the holidays. Should there be changes or important updates, these will be communicated through the municipal newsfeed to residents. Subscribe so you don’t miss an update: https://subscribe.mississippimills.ca/subscribe! I continue to encourage residents to look to our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Paula Stewart, and the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit

for the most up-to-date and locally specific information on COVID-19: https://healthunit.org/. To speak to someone directly at the health unit, please call 1-800-660-5853.

The holidays can be a tough time of year. Some of our friends, family and neighbours need help or will need help in the days ahead. I have complied a list of resources available to our community with expanded section on mental health and well-being that is available here: https://tinyurl.com/MMResourceList. There are lots of programs available and many of them are free. If you or someone you know needs help and you’re no sure where to turn, try reaching out to Carebridge on their confidential line: 343-571-2312 (it’s a local call) or call 2-1-1 which is available 24/7.

In closing, I want to thank everyone on the frontlines, the healthcare workers and first responders and all essential workers who show up everyday and work with incredible dedication. Thank you to the social service agencies and community organizations who hold up those who need help – we could not do this without you. Thank you to our business community who have adapted to ever-changing regulations to provide our residents with the necessities of life and also a little cheer.

And thank you to every single person in this community who has volunteered to buy groceries for a stranger, who checks in on their neighbours, who calls or writes to someone who may be lonely, who decided to grow a row for the Food Bank, who has donated a little extra to Interval House, who put up some Christmas lights this year for the first time, who has shown patience and empathy to others who may be struggling to adapt to the new realities of social distancing, face masks and walking the correct way in an aisle. Thank you to all who have decided to face this year not with fear but with kindness, showing the resiliency of our community and that we truly are in this together.

As 2020 draws to a close, I would invite you to reflect on all that has been this year, to project positivity into the new year, trusting that the next few weeks will bring you a renewed sense of peace and togetherness. On behalf of Council and staff, I wish you and yours a peaceful holiday season and a happy and healthy New Year.

Merry Christmas!

Mayor Christa Lowry