Welcome to Spences Bridge sign, 2017. Photo credit: Barbara Roden

Patience needed as we continue to navigate the COVID pandemic

End of year column by TNRD Area “I” director Steve Rice

By Steve Rice

When asked to write a “year in review” column, my mind immediately flashed to the story of the century: COVID. A virus unlike any ever seen in our lifetime. A pandemic that knows no boundaries, that demands discipline, diligence, distance. Mask wearing has become the norm. Staying home is a solution. The year in review 2020 will forever be chronicled under the umbrella of COVID.

That said, it has been a remarkable year with a lot of good, bad, and ugly that has been dealt with while following the COVID guidelines, so we have been asked to think outside the box more than ever.

Tourism has suffered greatly as we have been asked to “not attract” people to travel anywhere. Stay at home is a preference, but not a requirement.

Our regional board (Thompson-Nicola Regional District) has taken on developing a new strategic plan that includes encapsulating the pandemic to the best of our abilities, while not knowing if there will be another wave. This has been made more difficult by the fact that we are suffering the impact of a second wave much worse than the first.

Our local community Destination Marketing Organization, Gold Country Communities Society, is also re-imagining its strategy moving forward, as many 2021 events and/or projects have been cancelled already.

I am excited about the McAbee Fossil Beds, which hired some energetic youth to build trails this year. The network of trails has begun. An opening for 2021 is, like almost everything, dependent on where we are with the pandemic.

We had an incredibly successful “Sunflower Project” brought to Gold Country by team Route Blue, which garnered more social media interest than we could have imagined. More than 100,000 seeds were planted throughout the province. We also cleaned up many old satellite dishes that were looking for a home, and local artists have begun painting them with beautiful sunflowers, after which we will find them a home. This a great example of a COVID-compatible project.

We have been fighting, and continue to fight, hard to keep our electric vehicle charging station in Spences Bridge. Most townfolk really want it to stay, but the ball is in the hands of the Improvement District and they say no. Stay tuned.

Our rural businesses have struggled to stay open, and many have not been successful. Though there has been some help coming from the government, social distancing guidelines, masks, and essential travel only mandates have seriously limited the potential for a decent bottom line for the businesses that have managed to stay open.

As we continue to twist and turn as we navigate an ever-changing pandemic path, let us patient. Let us embrace empathy like never before. Make a random act of kindness part of your daily routine.

We are all in this together. “All” means the entire world. This is a time to embrace the space we have, and give to others when we can while keeping ourselves and those around us as safe as possible.

A huge shout out to all our frontline workers, all the businesses working hard to keep their doors open, and all the families who have made sacrifices to keep us safe.

Thanks to all, and here’s hoping 2021 is the beginning of a better tomorrow.

Steve Rice is the director of Thompson-Nicola Regional District Electoral Area “I” (Blue Sky Country).


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