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Report finds pandemic upheaval in County will go well beyond its medical impact

File photo PEC memorial hospital staff wearing personal protection equipment.

The County Foundation (TCF) reports the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will go well beyond its medical impact.

“It is a human, economic and social crisis, grounded in place,” states the foundation’s report to council to be presented Tuesday night.

The foundation was engaged by the municipality to research and report on the social impact of COVID-19 on the County with data reflecting the well-being of the community.

The report is to be used by the municipality and foundation to inform priority social actions.

Brian Beiles, TCF president, presenting highlights of the report, states glaring inequities were exposed as the pandemic crisis compounded many social and economic hardships.

“The pandemic has upended the status quo and knocked us out of complacency,” the report states. “While life in lockdown necessitates close, constant contact with our families and partners, physical distancing measures are isolating us from our friends and wider communities. The pandemic is reinforcing the value of human connections and a sense of belonging.”

The report concludes that while the pandemic affects everyone, COVID-19 has revealed and magnified inequities, demanding a new response from policymakers.

“New ways of defining our individual and collective goals, objectives and values will help us discover and drive solutions to ‘build back better’. As we continue to learn from this unprecedented experience, thoughtful planning can help our community prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.”

The extensive report details statistics and information focused on 10 areas, with the following summaries:

People, Place and Culture
– Shutdowns and social isolation test our connection and resilience. The volunteer base shifts. Public awareness and activism against long-standing inequities increases.

Health and Wellness
– PEC’s population faces unique health risks. The existing opioid crisis intensifies. Negative mental health effects are expected to last for some time. The pandemic strains our health care resourses.

Safety
– Lockdowns contribute to decreased rates of property crime. The pandemic heightens risks for victims of domestic and child abuse. Safety problems arise from an overwhelming number of summer tourists.

Employment and Income
– The economic fallout is steep and deep. Employment loss affects people inequitably. COVID-19 is likely to push more people into poverty. Physical distancing measures change the world of work.

Food Insecurity
– The pandemic increases the risk of food insecurity. The community quickly mobilizes to support food access. Food insecurity is addressed through an empowerment model.

Housing – Renting and Owning
– COVID-19 intensifies housing instability and there is increased urgency for affordable housing options. Home prices are pushed higher by demand from outside PEC.

Education
– Existing academic challenges are intensified by COVID-19 disruptions. K to 12 education changes for all students. Post-secondary education leverages technology and hybrid learning models.

Transportation
– County Transit public transportation launches in 2020. COVID-19 interrupts volunteer driving services. The cycling and transportation master plan will provide more transportation options.

Environment
– Lockdown during the pandemic casts a spotlight on outdoor spaces. Environmental impacts are mixed. Planning ramps up to protect the County’s natural heritage.

Crisis as a Catalyst for Change
– Accelerated adoption of technology enables services to continue. Perceptions and customs are shifting. The crisis provides an unprecedented opportunity for innovation and transformation.

Click here to view the report in detail with many interesting statistics. Community Foundation COVID Impact report

Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting can be viewed on the County’s YouTube channel.

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  1. SM says:

    In another comment I made on another story, MLS had one year-round house for sale in the County under $250,000.00. It was a 21 yr old mobile home listed at $200,000.00. Absent a catastrophic correction in the housing market, there will be no “real” affordable housing. For that matter, housing price escalation is not a purely PEC phenomenon. The average home price in Canada has gone up over 30% in the last 12 months. Last years tourist invasion did not contribute to a covid outbreak. It did cause inconvenience to local residents.

  2. Mark says:

    I don’t think a small municipal government is responsible to create affordable housing. The County has no control over housing prices here. They need to deal with taxpayer costs and our infrastructure.

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    I thank The Community Foundation for their work – it reveals much about our community. I hope that our Council is paying attention to what this report truly reflects – the real need for “real” affordable housing – not the $300K+ (that will soon become $400K+) that is being entertained now, plus the damage that tourism does to local safety, but equally important is the pressure COVID has exerted on our community to remain connected. It seems to me that our Council has gone in the opposite direction from what the community needs and wants. I have suggested on a number of occasions that major planning decision not be made at this time – the pandemic has take the public out of the loop and council is flying by the seat of their collective pants!

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