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Posted: April 4, 2020

We can’t shoulder the weight of the shadow right now

e-KNOW Editorial

By Ian Cobb

I get it.

If I lived in Calgary and had a nice cozy cabin (or a sprawling lakeside home) in ‘the mountains’ or ‘at the lake,’ I’d want to ride out a giant, weird pandemic there.

Less chance of a mob eating you, for starters, when the crap really goes down. Less chance of being deprived important supplies in the waves of panic shopping. And less chance of becoming infected with novel coronavirus (COVID-19), ‘brought to you by your friends in the toilet paper, hand sanitizer, medical mask, respirator, Tylenol and home self-renovation supply businesses.’

There’s a romance to hunkering down at the lake or in the mountains, isn’t there? Being in such a setting makes the long boring isolation ride easier to stomach than being stuck in a teeming city tucked just out of sight but seething for the light… that casts an unaccounted shadow.

If you’ve got a sled or two to rip around on in the still snowy backcountry, hoo-farking-rah, right?

Wrong. Are we to suppose you would expect a best attempt at rescue if you knucklehead-out and get stuck or worse, from always stretched thin search and rescue volunteers? Don’t be so selfish. Think about others.

There’s that theme again. Hearing it every day now. It’s not about you; it’s about those you could endanger through your recklessness and selfishness.

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) April 3 voted to send an urgent message to the B.C. government, asking it to implement additional measures, such as closure of the provincial border to non-essential traffic, closure of private campgrounds and closure of the backcountry to overnight camping, to limit the influx of travel to and within the region.

The RDEK board is showing strong leadership – thinking of the 65,000 plus residents of this region first and foremost.

Our medical facilities are top notch, staffed with dedicated professionals, who are ALWAYS under-staffed and over-worked during the best and easiest of times. Why make yourself a potential burden on that system?

If you insist on arguing that you pay property taxes etc. out here and deserve to be at your second home; think for a second that the people who live around you in the mountains or at the lake don’t have the option to go somewhere else to ride out the pandemic.

The business that second homeowners and tourists bring to this region is highly valued and has been for a long time. There isn’t a person in the East Kootenay who has not already been impacted by business losses and closures. We miss visitors’ money, believe me when I say that.

Many of us miss our friends who aren’t coming out. And to my friends ‘over there’ – stay there please. Stay home; stay away from people whenever possible.

It sucks but it would suck a helluva lot more if COVID-19 burrowed deep into our society and struck like it has in Italy or Spain. Our American friends (and they are our friends, despite the cockeyed messages their spin-dried President tweets in hopes of winning the non-existent ratings war of competing wannabe dictators), are heading into stormy waters.

This grand global human adventure we’re all on together requires the simple effort of self-isolation and separation from one another in groups in order to stem the rampage of the virus.

It then behooves all of us to hunker down peacefully and patiently and ride this bastard out.

At this time we can still roam around, as long as we stay a Zdeno Chara hockey stick length apart, even though more than half the businesses and most parks are closed. There was good news from the amazing Dr. Bonnie Henry (are we lucky to have this person to look to for the goods on this crisis or what?) yesterday, with an at least one day slow down in B.C.

Consider that the enemy re-loading for another bombardment and not as a sign you can drop your guard.

Maintain the pace folks. Go out only when you absolutely must.

Unless you’re an essential service provider, you should not be touring from town to town, or, seeing as we are politely asking our Albertan friends to stay home for now, let’s not be dicks and be over-rides on their medical system.

The tighter we lock things down right now the quicker this wave of the virus will pass and die off. If we keep giving it chances to feed and grow – it will – and this prisoners-in-our-homes thing will tighten, narrow and linger deep into the year. That scenario leads to one significant ‘oh shit’ possibility and that is global depression – of the financial kind.

All of that said, we hope the RDEK letter is well received by the provincial government and it takes a second to stop and realize that the East Kootenay is smack dab in the middle of a potential freeway of COVID-19 coming from those who are usually an economic positive.

The shadow population that Victoria has forever ignored when it comes to funding models for medical/health infrastructure in this neck of the woods, poses a real threat to balance and order in our communities.

An example. The full-time population of the Columbia Valley is around about 10,000 souls. On smoking nice summer weekends, that population soars beyond 40,000. The Invermere & District Hospital is staffed and funded for the full-time population. Do you see the math that scares us?

So you’d be doing your mountain and lake friends and neighbours a solid if you’d do what we are doing – ride out this pandemic in your homes.

And if you’re already out here, please don’t place any more strain on our SAR volunteers and emergency responders.

Working together as one instead of everyone for his or herself is the way forward and out of this bizarre, slow moving, frustrating situation.

– Ian Cobb is e-KNOW editor and owner


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