Smithers deputy mayor Gladys Atrill says she is proud to see the local efforts which have emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to The Interior News Atrill acknowledged that while these are uncertain times, she is extremely appreciative of how Smithers and surrounding communities have come together to face the crisis.
In response to the virus, a number of local Facebook groups and other social media efforts have popped up. They centre around everything from facilitating day-to-day errands for those most at risk from the virus to tips and tricks for parents looking for ways to pass the extra time with their kids. One, the “Smithers & Area Community Support Network” already has nearly 1,000 members as of this article’s publication.
Atrill said it was extremely heartwarming to see such a strong showing of support from the local community.
“The people of the Bulkley Valley, the people of Smithers are really stepping up,” she said. “I’m really proud.”
In terms of what the municipality can do with regard to COVID-19-related measures, Atrill explained the Town’s role is essentially following the provincial health officer’s recommendations as they pertain to Town-specific services.
This includes (as Smithers has already done) placing measures for ensuring people don’t come in close contact with each other at Town facilities. On the staff side of the counter, it also includes ensuring social distancing and what roles can be done from home.
The Town has also opened its emergency operations centre.
Atrill added she is very thankful to all the business owners who have taken precautions or, in many cases, closed up shop entirely in response to the virus.
“Those are very difficult choices for businesses,” she said. “They’re going to be taking a big financial hit and they’re taking that, they’re behaving responsibly, so I want to acknowledge that.”
In response to a number of unconfirmed rumours The Interior News has received about people not adhering to self-isolation, Atrill’s message was very clear to anyone who has been asked or told by the government to self-isolate: follow the rules.
“If you are an individual who ought to be self isolating, do it,” she said. “It doesn’t really matter if you feel OK, just follow those steps, it’s good for everyone. You don’t want to be the one person who causes others to become sick because you felt OK and you thought it wasn’t necessary.”
On the flip side, she also highlighted one of the benefits of the Bulkley Valley is the vast space it offers.
While people or families in self isolation are being told not to have direct contact with other individuals, they are still allowed to do things like outdoor sports or hiking.
With that in mind, Atrill said it was important — in so many aspects of the situation — to focus on the things you can control.
“You can go for a walk, you can go throw a frisbee, you can go snowshoeing, you can put on your cross-country skis, there are lots of things you can do,” she said. “Let’s stay positive … it sounds cliché but we are all in this together, so let’s remember that.”
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