Column: City of Salmon Arm, organizations doing their part amidst virus

Council Report by Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison

For six weeks we have had to change how we live.

This has been hard on everyone. On grandmas and grandpas, grandkids and all ages in between. There is emotional, social and financial stress.

Now we see a glimmer of hope.

The daily numbers of COVID-19 cases in B.C., and particularly in the Interior Health region, have been quite low. While we know the virus is still in our communities, the spread has been mitigated by our actions.

Dr. Bonnie Henry is encouraging us to stay the course: wash our hands, physical distance, isolate if ill and mix only with those you live with.

If contracted cases continue to be consistently low, the Province indicates that by mid-May, a strategic, systematic plan to ease restrictions is a possibility. Saskatchewan recently released their plan. I expect ours might be similar.

We do know that this plan will not include a quick return to large gatherings. Many events in the province, region and here in Salmon Arm have been cancelled or postponed.

We were saddened to hear this years Roots and Blues Festival on will not happen this summer. This decision, while difficult, is understandable. I thank the staff and board of Roots and Blues for making this conscientious decision. I know the festival will come roaring back in 2021!

In addition, the board also passed this motion, “In the wake of the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic, the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society offers to forgo the City of Salmon Arm’s annual grant to the society for 2020.” This is a classy, professional decision from a high-functioning board. The city acknowledges and appreciates the Roots and Blues board’s ability to think “Big picture” during these unusual times.

I have been impressed by the innovation I have seen in workplaces and businesses that are still able to operate. Many of our restaurants are fighting to survive. They have made take-out easy, following all guidelines to ensure there is no spread of bacteria. Similarly, businesses are following suit. We can help by supporting them – if ever there was a time to shop local, it is now!

Read more: Salmon Arm Roots & Blues cancels 2020 festival, pursuing alternatives

Read more: Salmon Arm council divided on whether to cut more expenses in 2020 budget

I also want to thank our city employees. We have taken the attitude that our buildings are closed to the public, but we are open for business!

The city continues to provide and maintain core services which our citizens rely upon such as water, wastewater management, curbside waste collection, fire protection and transportation services. Our development and planning and finance departments have been busy. Our public works department is taking this opportunity to complete road works, while traffic is light. A reduced parks department is working especially hard to ensure our public spaces are maintained and ready for the growing season.

In order to minimize spread, and keep people safe, the city has gone to work shifts for employees. At City Hall for example, we have shift one from 6 a.m. to 1:50 p.m., and shift two from 2 to 9:50 p.m. Our public works, parks, water, RCMP and pollution control centres have done the same. I know these changes disrupt lives. Thank you to all city employees for their flexibility and dedication.

We know that we are in this together. Dr. Henry tells us, “This is not forever, but it is for now.”

Thank you for continuing to do your part.

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