Restless Virden youth in isolation through the past six weeks can expect the return of one normalcy next week if all goes according to plan.
Virden Town Council voted unanimously to reopen municipal playgrounds at their regular meeting on Tuesday. The facilities are scheduled to be available for use as of Monday provided there are no further directives from the Province of Manitoba regarding emergency measures pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 20, Premier Brain Pallister announced that Manitoba was under a State of Emergency due to COVID-19. Part of that order included the closure of private and public recreational facilities.
In Virden, the playgrounds on six municipal parks fell into that category and were closed to the public on March 31. The facilities included the Virden Lions, Tundra Oil and Gas Place, Kenderdine Subdivision, Bennett Crescent, Bolton Bay and Victoria Park playgrounds and play structures.
Canada Day celebrations are also being developed despite the current lockdown.
Councilors voted to support the town’s Canada Day organizing committee to arrange various activities to celebrate the country’s birthday. Among the current plans are fireworks, a parade and decorated storefronts.
Mayor Murray Wright noted that park activities will remain — as of this week — limited due to the continued emergency health order, but council approved the continued development of plans involving current social distancing and large gathering regulations under the health order.
Council indemnity bylaw
A bylaw to end an annual increase to the indemnities paid to members of Virden council received first and second reading at the meeting. Both were carried unanimously.
The current compensation schedule for council members is $1400 per month for the mayor, $1200 for the deputy mayor and $1000 per councilor. The indemnity covers the attendance of regular and special council meetings, committee involvement and other duties related to each position. The new bylaw will remove an annual 2.5 per cent cost-of-living increase from the indemnity bylaw.
At their April 21 meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Rhonda Stewart was instructed to amend the bylaw to cut indemnity increases to zero moving forward. Future administrations would have to amend the new bylaw should they wish to return the cost-of-living increase.
A third reading of the bylaw will be made at council’s regular meeting scheduled for May 19.
Deputy Mayor Tina Williams forwarded a motion to lend a hand to the Prairie West Recreation. The regional recreational program organization has been seeking housing for its summer youth programming, which is generally hosted in Fort La Bosse School Division facilities.
Councilors voted unanimously to allow Prairie West to use Tundra Oil and Gas Place’s multipurpose room while Fort La Bosse schools are closed to public access. An agreement will be drawn through discussions between the Town of Virden and the Prairie West Recreation board of directors.