Minto CAO speculates work-from-home trend could continue post-pandemic

MINTO – While many people began working from home in recent weeks out of necessity, Minto’s CAO believes the trend could outlast the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councillor Ron Elliott asked CAO Derrick Thomson if he thought working from home could become a longer-term prospect for many, now that it’s been tried on a widespread basis.

“I think a lot of industries and a lot of businesses are going through that very thought process right now,” replied Thompson during the May 5 Minto council meeting held via video-conference.

“A lot of people have been successful and very productive working from home. And I think you’re going to see a lot of industries change, especially those that have to rent very expensive real estate.”

The CAO said the town would be looking into the potential benefits for the municipality

“We’ve got some people working from home and its something we’re going to look at too. We’re going to look at what is the need, versus some of the savings if we actually continue to have some folks work from home,” said Thomson.

“These questions are starting to be asked around, ‘Well, do we really need this office space? Do we really need that kind of layout?’ Production has been pretty good. I think that’s changed a lot of people’s minds around people working from home,” Thompson stated.

“I think, globally really, people are going to start looking at it now.”

Taxes getting paid

Treasurer Gordon Duff reported people are, for the most part, paying their taxes and water bills through the pandemic.

Initially, he told council at the May 5 meeting, staff projected a loss of about $30,000 from deferral of late payment penalties on taxes until the end of June and around $9,000 on water bills over the same period.

“Those may be high now. People have really tried to pay and I think everyone realizes these are just deferments,” said Duff.

Online programming

Minto is looking to expand its online programming options during the pandemic.

The town is already offering Make and Move Minto online craft sessions for young people.

Recreation programming manger Matt Lubbers told council the town is also currently offering an online babysitting course for local youth and is planning another session later in May.

In addition, he said, “We’re consulting with local groups and service clubs about contributing to our YouTube channel.

“We’ve got some content with Make and Move Minto, but we know there are other groups out there that might want to create something, or they’re creating things, and we just want to try and centralize that,” Lubbers explained.

He also reported he is consulting with recreation departments in neighbouring towns about plans for day camps and swimming pools this summer.

“I’ve also been taking in webinars from the lifesaving society about what openings might look like this summer,” he noted.

Emergency calls down

Minto Fire Chief Chris Harrow reports calls have been down locally since pandemic restrictions began in mid-March, reflecting trends from across Ontario.

“Our calls are trending down right now and I’ve heard that across the province, that a lot of calls are trending down because people are staying home and not travelling and being safe at home,” Harrow told council.

“The only calls province wide that are up are actually house fires and structure fires … because more people are cooking at home and they’re not very good cooks at home,” he added.