Slow and steady return to “normal”

May 13, 2020
Council Column

As we approach the May long weekend, we’ll be starting on our road back to whatever the “new normal” will be, with the possibility of a second surge of the COVID-19 pandemic hanging over our heads. As antsy as everyone is to simply get back to our daily routines, there will still be a need to maintain most of our newly acquired sanitation and social distancing practices for some time. These practices are our best defense against a second surge.

Over the next few weeks, City staff will be working with public health and Ministry officials to determine how best to re-open our playgrounds and public recreation facilities. Without a doubt, additional sanitation measures will be required and, potentially, some additional monitoring and signage to ensure social distancing is enabled at these venues.

Provincial and national sports and recreation organizations are also working on guidelines for their activities and competitions. Our recreation staff will be working with our local sports organizations to determine if and how we can accommodate the best practice guidelines that provincial organizations will be providing them with.

Similarly, our city planning and economic development staff will be working with local businesses and business associations to enable them to re-open and/or ramp up their business activities with as much adherence to social distancing rules as possible. We’re starting to get interesting requests for street closures to enable more outside patio space for our pubs, restaurants and coffee shops, a trend that appears to be gaining momentum in many cities around the world.

We’ll also work with our not-for-profit agencies to assist them to get back to normal operations as well. In part, this will mean continuing to lobby the provincial and federal governments to ensure the not-for-profit sector has the base funding it needs to deliver and even enhance their important services and programs in our community. We’re particularly concerned about this year’s gaming grants (which support many organizations in our community) given that casinos will be closed for the foreseeable future and lottery tickets sales have been compromised by retail store closures.

It’s clear from Dr. Bonnie Henry’s comments that we’re starting on the slow and steady road to recovery from this pandemic. If we’re to be successful on this journey, we must all still take great care to not spread the virus by continuing to practice good sanitation and by minimizing unnecessary exposure through continuing to limit our social interactions in our community.

One final important note: please check in with your local family doctor if you need medical assistance. We’re beginning to see more people accessing the hospital emergency room rather than going to their local clinic. Medical clinics are open and they should be your first place to go to for assistance with any health issues.

Mayor Bob Simpson

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