Construction projects and applications have all been affected in some way by the current COVID-19 pandemic, however the overall impact should be minimal, according to officials from municipalities within the United Counties of Prescott-Russell.

“COVID-19 might have had some effect at first, but we’ve (the counties’ administration) adjusted and made some changes,” observes Louis Prevost, Director of the Planning and Forestry Department for the United Counties.

Prevost says there have been significant modifications required to allow operations to proceed in municipalities and businesses within the United Counties, but most have now adapted to business in the current climate. Members of Prevost’s department, for example, are still able to do their work online and by phone and have been able for the most part to stay on top of applications.

“The overall effect (on planning applications) has been minimal,” says Prevost. “The only difference is people can’t come into the office.”

With the adjustments there has been a significant learning curve. Some of that was experienced on May 28 when a public online Zoom meeting to discuss a large subdivision project in Vankleek Hill went off the rails. Although those who had requested to be part of the meeting and had pre-registered had access to the Zoom meeting, the live streaming of that meeting didn’t happen, when the YouTube connection failed. The recorded meeting, which included comments from a few people who called in by telephone to the meeting, was posted later on Champlain Township’s “Information Champlain” YouTube channel. A second electronic public meeting is planned for June 25 at 6 p.m. Note that if you want to make a verbal presentation at the meeting, you must register in advance by contacting the Clerk of Champlain Township. Call 613-678-3003, extension 229, before 4 p.m. on June 23, 2020. A link will be posted so that residents can watch the meeting, but in order to speak during the live meeting, pre-registration is a must in order to connect to the meeting.

Hawkesbury Senior Planner Manon Belle-Isle says operations at most business and residential projects in the town had to be suspended at the beginning of the pandemic, however construction has now resumed.

“(Building) stalled a bit on all of the projects,” says Belle-Isle, noting an exception: construction continued for the most part on the Hawkesbury General Hospital project.

With construction underway once again in the town, crews are working to catch up and there should be overall effect on projects, Belle-Isle said.