Richmond Hill is suffering from a leadership crisis at the worst time, during a pandemic.
Mayor Dave Barrow and other Richmond Hill council members have failed to create a united strategy to tackle COVID-19.
Instead, residents see Regional Councillor Carmine Perrelli spending tax dollars to advertise his anti-lockdown stance, Councillor Tom Muench travelling abroad during lockdown, and Councillor Karen Cilevitz charged with fraud and breach of trust, which has yet to be proven in court.
While other municipalities work to reduce COVID-19 cases and procure vaccines, Perrelli has lobbied to reduce safety measures, saying, "let the good people of our community make the decisions whether they want to follow the rules or not.“
He has discounted scientific evidence, stated unproven theories and denied that hospital ICUs were struggling. His message is confusing and divisive, encouraging behaviours counter to York Region health directives — to stay safe at home.
Ontario MPP Roman Baber was removed from the PC caucus for anti-lockdown rhetoric. Richmond Hill residents have no such recourse.
Leadership was absent when Muench disregarded travel advisories by visiting Aruba in December. As York Region reporter Sheila Wang wrote, upon his return, he allegedly violated his 14-day quarantine by going out into the community.
Leadership in Richmond Hill means advocating for vaccines for front-line workers, first responders, teachers, and every resident that wants it.
Leadership means enacting plans to help small businesses after lockdown.
Leadership means supporting families caring for elderly kin while trying to keep kids afloat amid COVID-19.
Leadership offers hope for the future.
COVID-19 has killed and sickened many, worsened mental health, stolen jobs and punished small businesses. With such devastation, we demand Richmond Hill Council set aside politics and put residents first.
Work together to design a science-based COVID-19 strategy to get us all thriving as soon as possible.
Carol Davidson, Marian Nalley and Marj Andre
Co-founders of the Council Accountability Group Richmond Hill Inc.