Ontario confirms ‘stay-at-home’ order for the next month
Yesterday, Premier Doug Ford announced that Ontario will be in a ‘stay-at-home’ order starting April 8 at 12:01am. The order will last until May 6. The precaution was put in place in an attempt to slow the third wave of COVID-19 transmission. For much of the province, schools will remain open. However, officials in Toronto, Peel and Guelph have switched local schools to online learning.
Stores selling essential goods will remain open, and big box stores will only be able to sell their essential goods. Non-essential retailers also have strengthened public health and workplace safety measures. Some of the enhanced measures include limiting the majority of sales to curbside pick-up between 7am and 8pm; restricting access to shopping malls; and only allowing big box and discount stores to open for in-person sales of groceries, pet supplies, household cleaning supplies, and pharmacy items.
Stores permitted to operate for in-person retail by appointment only (at 25% capacity) include businesses that sell, rent or repair assistive/mobility/medical devices, aids and/or supplies; rental and leasing services; businesses selling motor vehicles, boats and other watercrafts; retailers operated by a telecommunications provider or service (cellphone repairs or technical support); optical stores selling prescription eyewear; and outdoor and indoor garden centres and plant nurseries.
Vaccine rollout strategy altered for virus hot spots
The province plans to vaccinate individuals 18 years and older that live in COVID-19 hot spots. Mobile teams will distribute and deliver vaccines in congregated settings, residential buildings, faith-based centres, as well as large employers in those places that have been most significantly affected by COVID-19. Rates of severe illness and mortality, as well as patterns of transmission, will determine the selected regions. Recently, the ‘L2G’ postal code in Niagara Falls was identified as a ‘hotspot.’ It’s uncertain whether or not the area will be part of the new initiative.
Niagara pharmacies finally receive COVID-19 vaccines
Niagara pharmacists have received COVID-19 vaccines after months of waiting. On Monday morning, 22 pharmacies within the Niagara Region received the first shipments of AstraZeneca. Pharmacists immediately called pre-registered high-risk patients to begin inoculation and will continue vaccinating as long as they continue to receive supply. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, AstraZeneca does not need to be stored in ultra-cold freezers, making it possible for pharmacies to distribute the product.
Niagara residents 55 and over are eligible to receive their vaccination at any of the 22 regional pharmacies that are distributing vaccines.
Niagara has administered over 92,829 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to date. The 80 plus population is 89% vaccinated, while 70 to 79 population is 71% vaccinated.
COVID-19 Weekly Update
Niagara has continued to see a rise in COVID-19 cases. The reported numbers are comparable to the spike seen in mid-January. As of April 7, there are 817 confirmed active cases, with 110 new resolved cases and 133 new cases. From April 1 to 7, new daily active cases were 99, 108, 82, 110, 97, 73, 133.
There have now been 397 total variant cases detected, and 13 UK variant cases confirmed. Welland has 205 active cases, followed by St. Catharines with 179 and Niagara Falls with 136. On the low end are Fort Erie and Port Colborne at 25 active cases, and Niagara-on-the-Lake and Wainfleet at 24 and 7 cases, respectively.
Welland has 36.8 active confirmed cases per 10,000 residents, while Thorold and West Lincoln follow with rates of 24.9 and 22.8. On the low end sits Fort Erie, at 7.6 active confirmed cases per 10,000 residents.
Mountainview United Church downsizes, new development proposed
A residential development is proposed on the Mountainview United Church property at 150 Glendale Avenue in St. Catharines. What was once a congregation of 700-strong has dwindled down to just over 100 parishioners, making the large house of worship financially unviable. While the church has tried since 2013 to offset its expenses by selling 3.5 acres of property, buyers have been uninterested in the partial lot.
The proposal for the land is to demolish the church and build 72 units on the property, with 17 street townhouse units and 55 stacked townhouse units. This includes a vehicle entrance from Valerie Drive and two pedestrian connections to Glendale Avenue, as well as 114 parking spaces.
Mountainview United Church is now leasing the building until September, and they are hoping to rent from another church, conjoin with a United church or rent elsewhere moving forward.
Former Welland salvage yard to become residential housing
Turris Holdings proposes to build residential homes on Brownfield land at 175 Southworth Street, north of Ontario Road in Welland. This former salvage yard fronts 90 metres on Southworth Street and 190 metres on Laugher Avenue. This land is zoned low-density residential, and Turris Holdings hopes to build as many as 39 single-family detached residences. There are existing water and sewer systems which the development would tie into, and it would be graded to accommodate storm water management. The homes will be near community facilities, including parks, schools and bus stops.
A road built off of Southworth Street will solely be for emergency vehicles, as homes fronting Southworth have individual driveways. Access to further development in the future would come from Laugher Avenue.
On the property sits one block of land that is leased by Bell Mobility, which will support up to 19 additional homes once the lease expires.
Regional construction ramps up
The Region budgeted $52 million for construction work this year, with its biggest project being the reconstruction of Casablanca Boulevard in Grimsby (at a cost of $29 million). This reconstruction includes reworking highway ramps, as well as expanding lanes to coincide with the area’s new GO station.
St. Catharines alone has a number of road projects planned for this construction season: bridge replacements, underground works, and asphalt resurfacing. Starting next week, Geneva Street between Grote and Scott streets will be fully repaired and repaved, with construction lasting four to six weeks with some lane closures. Pelham Road between St. Paul Crescent and Hamilton Street over the CN bridge will be resurfaced this month. The Third Avenue Louth Bridge at Richardson Creek between Third and Fifth streets, and another bridge at Third Avenue Louth and Glass Avenue over Fifteen Mile Creek, require replacements and full road closures. Construction on the bridges is set to begin shortly.
Between June and September, Regional Road 88 (or Seaway Haulage Road) between Carlton Street and Read Road will be redone and resurfaced with new asphalt. Later this spring or early summer, Dunkirk Road from Wright Street to Bunting Road, the Burgoyne Woods main driveway on Edgedale Road and the picnic area loop, and Market Square and city hall parking lots will be resurfaced. In July or August, Lake Street from the Lakeport Road split to Lakeshore Road will be resurfaced.
Four months of underground work will begin just before winter on Russell Avenue from George Street to Geneva Street, while Pelham Road between Hamilton and Kent streets will be reconstructed.
The largest Region road project happening in St. Catharines will be the St. Paul Street West CNR bridge, which must be replaced after an inspection stated immediate action is required. Bridge structures are built with a 75-year lifespan – the narrow, humped bridge is over 80 years old. The replacement will be a wider, modern bridge that will accommodate vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. Construction will commence in late fall and continue into next year, with utility relocations starting shortly before the construction.