COVID-19 prompts new neighbourhood watch program in this northern Ontario town
ESPANOLA -- Espanola's mayor says she's hoping she will soon start to see brightly coloured cards in the front windows of homes in her community of 5,000.
The town is unveiling a new neighbourhood watch program consisting of four brightly coloured cards to inform neighbours on how those inside are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The colour green will mean "we are okay," yellow means "we need food or medication," blue means "we are physically isolating by choice or requirement" and red means "we are in need of urgent help."
"We want residents to look after each other," said Mayor Jill Beer. "We've had a number of phone calls from people asking what they can do to help with the pandemic that's going on."
The idea started in other communities around the region, and has now made its way to Espanola. It's meant to serve only as a back-up, and those with an emergency are still being urged to call 911.
It appealed to Fire Chief and Community Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Pichor given the large number of seniors in the community and those people who live on their own.
"Part of the reason why we looked at this is the elderly population can't always get around easily so we wanted to have some sort of way where we could keep an eye on them, so just by putting these pieces of paper in your windows, it'll identify if everything is okay," said PIchor.
"I think it's a good idea in a way, but I worry about seniors being older and if they get sick, usually it's in the evening or in the night, so i don't know if they'd be able to get up in the morning and change the card," said Claire Lamothe, president of the Espanola Seniors Club.
Lamothe and her team have been busy calling their 300-plus members to check in on them during the current pandemic.
She tells CTV News she's willing to give the new system a shot.
"Everybody that I've called, they say they're staying home or just going out for shopping and everybody's doing well, we haven't had any of our members sick yet so," said Lamothe.
In the meantime, Mayor Beer says from what she can tell, most in the town seem to be following the rules of physical isolation.
"I do go out into the community a little bit, just in the nature of the job that I have, and I have not seen large groups of people in any location. There have been a few calls about some of the businesses not having enough measures or enough stringent measures in place," said Beer. "I really hope this will be widely used. I know I'm excited to get my cards up in the window to demonstrate its use, but it's a way where we can take care of each other."
They are hoping to have 2,500 kits distributed to homes within the next week.