Shuswap officials reflect on what the year 2020 taught them. (Pixabay Image)

Lessons learned by Shuswap officials in 2020

Mayors and councillors from local communities shared impressions left by the past year.

The Observer asked local officials what the challenging year 2020 taught them. Those who were able to respond are listed below.

Mayor Alan Harrison

2020 has taught us many lessons! Three that stand out for me are:

  1. Relationships are the most important thing. Strong relationship with family, friends and community can carry us through challenging times.
  2. Flexibility and adaptability are crucially important during times of change. We have to able to shift our mindset to, “Yes, we can do this, just in a different way than before.”
  3. We are blessed to live in the Shuswap. Having to stay local this year, has allowed us to experience many more wonders of our area.

-Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison

Mayor Terry Rysz (File Photo)

“Overall 2020 was a really interesting year. What it taught us more than anything was how to utilize other methods of communication… In a lot of ways we learned to adapt, I’m getting comfortable with Zoom meetings now.”

Rysz added that communication was important for promoting compliance with the provincial health orders. Rysz said this was sometimes challenging due to Sicamous’ status as a vacation community. One successfully communicated initiative was the People Not Plates campaign which urged respect for those from out of province who were visiting Sicamous over the summer.

Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz

Salmon Arm Councillor Sylvia Lindgren.(File Photo)

“2020 taught us that life can change overnight but we are a resilient and creative people who adapt quickly. I think we also saw that when we work together we can effect great change in a short time. We should apply this approach to humanitarian and climate issues.”

-Salmon Arm Coun. Sylvia Lindgren

Sicamous Councillor Malcom Makayev. (File Photo)

“Respect others, regardless of your personal opinion, look for ways to make things a little better, instead of complaining how they are.”

-Sicamous Coun. Malcolm Makayev

Salmon Arm Councillor Louise Wallace Richmond. (File Photo)

“To face unafraid the plans that we made” sums up my reflections on 2020.

In the early days of the pandemic, I was deeply saddened to realize I wouldn’t be able to see my parents in the summer or host my friends from back east here at home.

I quickly realized the folly of my thinking. Thank goodness I have plans to postpone. I turned instead to strengthening the relationships I am privileged to have with those who make my heart beat and my mind tick.

Having spent the better part of the last nine months in my home, amidst the challenges of a never ending renovation, I learned to find gratitude and solve challenges in new and rewarding ways. Days in the kitchen practicing family recipes, hours learning Italian. days of reading and researching subject experts on all manner of things – from cocktails, to city planning – and back again.

I am a better version of myself for the time despite the circumstance. And full of gratitude and humility for what inevitably lies ahead, ingenuity, innovation, kindness and hope.

-Salmon Arm Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond

Sicamous Councillor Gord Bushell. (File Photo)

“2020 will be a year to remember and not to forget. We take so much for granted living in this beautiful area we call home. The people here are friendly and easy going and mostly kind to one another, the people who don’t live here full time, dream about living here full time. So don’t take everything for granted, live life to its fullest and cherish the family and friend moments more often. This past year has taught me just that.”

-Sicamous Coun. Gord Bushell

Sicamous Councillor Colleen Anderson. (File Photo)

“2020 taught me first, I never want to go through a pandemic again. I found in myself and those around me, we adapt in the face of adversity. People have a lot of resilience and we find it in ourselves to overcome challenges. It taught me to be more compassionate. It taught me, actions speak louder than words. 2020 taught me how much I missed my family, how much I appreciate them in my life, and what great senses of humour they all have. 2020 taught me, difficult times bring truth to light. It made me reflect more on social, economic, and division issues, to care a little more about things around me. It made me a better cook, my kitchen is more experimental. Whatever 2020 was, it was definitely a year that brought many things to light, some good, some bad. Hopefully, we all take a lesson from this year and learn something,”

-Sicamous Coun. Colleen Anderson

Salmon Arm Councillor Tim Lavery. (File Photo)

“To say that it’s been a ‘unique’ year is an understatement for sure with 2020 now a prequel for 2021. It’s been amazing to see community organizations and individuals step up to provide the support many residents need. Council responsively revised its initial budget and authorized a zero percent tax increase for 2020. Staff did a fantastic job prioritizing and implementing core services amidst the financial challenges.

“The upcoming challenges for 2021 (and even 2022) remain significant given the ongoing uncertainties: Protect core services, carry on a range of initiatives already underway as best we can and carefully bracket options for a range of further financial contingencies. 2021 budget deliberations start soon under the long-reaching shadow of 2020. Residents can be assured that council and staff will be responsive and ready to carefully navigate whatever may come for 2021. I’ve also learned that all-of-us responsibly following public health recommendations is our collective path to a safe community recovery.”

-Salmon Arm Coun. Tim Lavery

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