Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick gave an interview to the Bulletin on Tuesday, March 24 in which he said he is “extremely proud of our community for the way they are responding to what is arguably a crisis.”
“We don’t have too many outliers out there that aren’t conforming with the things that need to be done and I’m absolutely proud of the community for the way they’re responding,” McCormick said.
One of the subjects discussed was the closure of the parks and recreation areas around town to enhance social distancing methods, specifically on how their closures will be enforced.
“Like everybody else, the City of Kimberley is on more or less, I hesitate to use the word skeleton staff, but certainly City Hall is. In fact what we’ve done at City Hall is to modify the shifts and our practices so that we basically have two sets of staff: one that’s working from home and one that’s working from City Hall.”
City Hall has been closed to the public and so the risk of transmission for staff working there is relatively low, he explained. In the event that somebody is diagnosed with COVID-19, however, the City is able to swap out those who have been working from home with those who are working in office, allowing them to at all times maintain active staff working on the necessary tasks required to keep the city functioning.
“Really that’s our two priorities right now are staff and ensuring the safety of staff and then secondly ensuring that no matter what happens going forward we’re in a position that core city services are maintained.”
This does mean that beyond that, there aren’t many resources left and so when it comes to something like bylaw enforcement for the closure of playgrounds, McCormick said they are relying on the public to adhere to the policy and, more or less, “peer pressure.”
“If somebody sees something in a park, groups in a park that are playing, they need to say something,” McCormick said. “Right now the message that needs to be delivered is stay home. And if everybody just stays home and there is no opportunity to spread the virus, this thing is going to be over in a matter of weeks.”
He added that while they’re in the minority, he feels that those are not taking these types of measures, or the pandemic at large seriously, believe that they are either somehow immune or if they do contact the virus, it won’t be that bad.
“First of all, there are lots of people that get it really bad and you can’t know that you won’t, but more importantly, you are a carrier of the virus,” McCormick said. “It’s about being a carrier and moving it from place to place and infecting other people that is the critical aspect of this.”
When there are times that you must leave the house, such as to walk your dog, McCormick stressed the need for common sense.
“This stay home doesn’t mean that you don’t have to get out, pets in fact do have to get out. And I think people just need to use common sense and good judgment on where and how and how long that those outings last.”
In Kimberley, he added, there aren’t many places where large groups gather. The playgrounds were really the last place the City saw gatherings happening, which necessitated their closure and emphasizes again the need for common sense and the public to respect the new policies.
The City crews are still out in the streets, doing the work needed to keep Kimberley functioning. They usually work individually or in pairs so the safety factor is being adhered to as much as possible while keeping things business as usual with respect to City services.
McCormick said the City is taking their cues from B.C. provincial health minister Bonnie Henry throughout these times.
“She is not only the authority on this, she is the law on this and we’re trying to keep it simple,” he said. “We need to stay home, we need to stay informed, but not so informed to the point where things are fearful. This is an evolving situation which means that things are changing every day, and in fact in some places, with some things, every hour, so it’s not expected that either we as residents or any of the public health officials, not all of the answers are known at this point in time.”
McCormick said his mantra for the past weeks has been “stay informed, stay calm and be supportive,” and he believes that by doing these things we will be well positioned to come out of this crisis sooner than later.
He added that he’s pleasantly surprised with all of the positive stories and activities he’s been seeing throughout these tumultuous times, particularly as he looks online.
“It’s absolutely hilarious, the humour and all of the activities that are happening online that would have never happened had we not been in this situation,” he said. “And it’s a nice diversion and I think that finding diversions, positive diversions, is really important for people at this time as well.”