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Statement by Mayor Nancy Peckford on the "No Lockdown" Event

April 9, 2021

Dear North Grenville:

I know many of you are disheartened by the events that transpired at South Branch Bistro in Kemptville this evening. To convene an unlawful gathering that is a flagrant violation of public health protocols during a provincial State of Emergency is extremely disappointing, and irresponsible.

As your Mayor, my first priority will be to continue to protect the health of residents in our community, support our local economy and ensure we get through this pandemic together.

I do not believe that the event this past evening reflected the spirit or character of the people in North Grenville. The actions of those who do not live here, and who opportunistically prey on vulnerable businesses across Ontario, will not distort or diminish our town.

In fact, from what I understand, very few of those who participated in tonight's actions were, in fact, from North Grenville. Yes, there were a few, no doubt, but events organized by the No More Lockdowns Canada group are notorious for attracting a small cohort of disgruntled individuals from many different communities who reject the science behind public health. They seek to antagonize and divide communities like ours, and I will not let this division happen on my watch.

I am sorry that anyone would believe that this kind of event is a way forward. We know gatherings like this pose a significant danger to those who participated, employees at the restaurant, and our community at large.

I realize some of you are asking why the Ontario Provincial Police - East Region or Public Health did not shut this event down.

Given the size of the gathering, and the intention of the organizers to sensationalize the event, as well as to create more publicity, Municipal Bylaw officers, Public Health representatives and the OPP were present to fully document what transpired, and to keep the peace. They did just that. It is my full expectation that more will come on this matter.

As part of the Municipality’s discussion with the OPP, I was informed that the OPP, public health and other partners continue to investigate the circumstances of last night's event. I have full confidence that they will proceed as quickly as possible with the public's best interest in mind. 

I want to thank municipal bylaw staff, The Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit Public Health as well as members of the OPP Eastern Ontario for their cool and calm approach, and for risking their own health given the number of unmasked participants.

I want to also thank all of the residents and business leaders who have reached out to express their concern for our community this evening. Local businesses need our support more than ever.

This Council will continue to advocate on their behalf at every turn, and will sustain its investments in innovative business initiatives.

Our community will not falter because of this one incident. We are stronger and smarter than a group of individuals who have put their own health and well-being in jeopardy, and sought to compromise the health of others. I recognize that some folks are hurting, but this is not the way to seek help.

Given the rise of COVID variants in this area, I am urging everyone to use as much caution as possible during the Stay at Home order, and register for a vaccine as soon as it is your turn. The Variants of Concern are spreading much more quickly, and they are here in North Grenville.

There is light at the end of this tunnel as long as we work together.

Please stay kind, remain vigilant and do not lose hope in the coming weeks.

Council will continue to work closely with our MPP Steve Clark, and our Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Stewart to expedite vaccines so that we can resume some kind of normal.

We can do this, North Grenville. We will see the other side of this pandemic.

Mayor Nancy Peckford