Working primarily from home and social distancing when he has no choice, Eric Westram, father of 3 and grandfather of 5, current mayor of Rosemère takes the Covid-19 craziness in stride.
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Having had a flourishing 25 years career in the pulp and paper industry and 10 years in the industrial sector, mayor Westram is now captaining Rosemère through the Covid-19 storm.
The first focus of the City was to support the population groups more affected from the virus. The elderly and sick people were given priority through distribution of food and other necessities as well as psychological support.
Eventually the city of Rosemère expanded its support to the younger age groups for example the 40 and 50 year olds. Many of the employees of the city have been tasked with helping these age groups by doing friendship calls, basically phone calls to chat and to lift people out of the isolation. Another challenge was how to keep all the city of Rosemère employees employed. “Right now 95% or 96 % of our white collar workers are working from home. As for the blue collars we made changes into how the teams are organized so that they maintain the proper distance from each other in order to make sure that essential services are maintained” said mayor Westram. The city still has to ensure the drinking water is still good and the sewer systems repaired and maintained especially during the spring thaw and the flooding danger. Garbage and recycling still have to be picked up so it was a challenge to make sure that everyone was kept busy. “I did not want to save money at this critical moment since for me people are first and dollars are second” said mayor Westram.
The economic impact on the city because of the Covid-19 contagion is the second biggest concern for the mayor. At the moment a whole slew of measures to help local businesses and residents similar to the measures taken by the neighbouring towns have been in effect. Cancellation of penalties and interest as well as the possibility of delayed payments are part of the city of Rosemère relief package. The mayor indicated that his team is preparing two new budgets, one pessimistic and one optimistic, in order to be ready for what’s coming. Right now the city’s cash flow is being affected especially since real estate transactions are grinding to a halt. “The welcome tax, for example, provides the city with an average of 1.5 million dollars” said the mayor. Real estate agents have been advising the mayor that things are getting very slow which will affect greatly the city’s revenue. “Tax payments pushed back of a couple of months from the residents it’s not a big deal but when you have a big place like place Rosemère which in essence is closed, apart from a few online transactions, you can imagine the effect this has on the city coffers” said Mr. Westram.
The home, the office and the streets
The mayor however is not working entirely from home. 50% of his time is spent delegating from his house, 30% from his office and a 20% of his precious time is spent on the street providing support to people and talking to them always maintaining a 2-meter distance. It still remains a challenge according to mayor Westram to continue a complicated job like his this way. ”The most difficult thing is to find yourself alone with no contact with your fellow workers. We have been using online technology like Zoom to do our meetings and I do see everyone, but it’s not the same thing being humanly close to each other. On the personal side not being able to see your kids or your grandchildren especially when they live around the block is hard. If the human race wants to survive it has to adapt to these challenges. We will get over this” concluded mayor Westram.
The spring thaw
As far as the danger of flooding this season because of the spring thaw, the mayor sounded relieved that up to now things have been going well. The weather has been cooperating with positive temperatures during the day and minus temperatures during the night making the thaw more gradual. The river levels right now are way below what they were at this time last year. “If things change however, we use a lot of blue-collar workers, a lot of volunteers, even elected officials to put sandbags around people’s properties to protect from flooding. With covid-19, we won’t be able to do that since we do not want to put volunteers at risk” said the mayor.
So, the sandbags that have been ordered and delivered to the city’s warehouses will be put on the sides of the streets for residents to pick up should the need arise.
The post Covid-19 Rosemère
The mayor predicted positive effects brought through adversity.
“Ours is a close-knit community” said Mr. Westram. “Bonds will be strengthened family values will play an even bigger role. We are already seeing a change by the incredible response we had when we asked for volunteers to help residents in need. I am really proud of our community – we are doing very well” concluded the mayor.