I am not an expert in vaccinations, epidemiology or really health care but my world has been and will continue to be filled with these topics for the foreseeable future. There is no doubt it is a strange time to be in local government, but a year into our pandemic response it is starting to feel normal for these topics to be high priority issues. Right now, I have weekly meetings scheduled with our health officers, Cabinet Ministers and ministerial staff on vaccinations, and COVID-19 impact to our community.
Last week the 14- resort mayors had an audience with Dr. Henry, Minister Osbourne and Minister Mark to discuss how vaccinations and COVID recovery are unique in resort communities, and a tailored response is exactly what we are looking for. It is a whirlwind of information sharing, learning and appreciation. I came away from my meeting with Dr. Henry in awe really for her work and her ongoing commitment to keeping us safe.
The City of Fernie was awarded $1.59 million dollars in a Safe Restart Grant program that is intended to support the ongoing operating and emergency response costs associated with the pandemic. The financial impact to our organization is vast and includes things like the costs associated with an increased safety protocol, a need to shore up our technology needs, specialized equipment, increased signage to support COVID awareness, and a significant loss in revenue from operating our facilities. These are just a few alongside many others we are facing as a result of COVID.
The main function of this program is to protect taxpayers from funding the short falls associated with COVID, and I can assure you it is a welcome relief, but we will be advocating for continued financial support as we navigate another 12- month cycle in a COVID environment.
In Fernie though, it feels optimistic for the first time all year. Spring is in the air, and restrictions have relaxed so we can enjoy meeting with our loved ones (under ten people) outside in our yards. We also know that Interior Health will be setting up a COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic at the Fernie Memorial Arena to begin April 12, 2021 through to September.
I’m looking at our future with optimism, and I encourage everyone to keep following the current health orders. Early on in the pandemic Dr. Henry reminded us that all of our actions matter, and this holds true today. In the meantime, however and after an extremely long winter in isolation, I am especially thankful for the opportunity to share a laugh on my front deck in the spring sun.
For information on our regional vaccination plan visit news.interiorhealth.ca/news/covid-19-vaccines/.