In a special meeting of council on March 31, Vernon city councillors spoke about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star file)

COVID-19: ‘This is going to go on for a while,’ Vernon mayor says

City council gives kudos to public, businesses and city staff for response to pandemic

City councillors praised their citizens for taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously in a special council meeting March 31.

Coun. Akbal Mund said he’s “pleased” to see his neighbours stepping up to help one another out during these trying times.

“We need to be patient with each other,” he said in his council update. “Most people are doing the best they can given the circumstances.”

Mund said it’s evident the community and businesses are coming together as one. He gave a special nod to Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery for its willingness to produce hand sanitizer to donate to frontline workers and residents at no cost.

Coun. Kari Gares said while the city and council are doing everything they can to keep citizens informed, she recognizes social distancing is not easy, but Vernonites are doing an “amazing job.”

While everyone is maintaining the appropriate two-metre distancing, Gares said she’s noticed a lot of people enjoying the parks and pathways in Vernon.

“If you can get out,” she said, “take in the fresh air and enjoy what this community has to offer and we will get through this together.”

Taking a moment to reflect on the lighter-side of this dire situation, Gares noted an unexpected consequence.

“I think we’re going to have a lot of fit people,” she said.

Mayor Victor Cumming acknowledged these unprecedented times are challenging for everyone.

“Patience everyone,” he reminded his council. “There is stuff around us that is very difficult. It’s difficult on an individual basis, as a city, as business operators… very, very difficult times.”

This pandemic, he said, is especially difficult because although unseen, its effects are felt worldwide.

“If we were dealing with a flood or a wildfire that got out of control, you would be able to see it or feel it,” he said. “But this is something you can’t see or touch.”

The mayor said he’s been sitting in with more than 170 other mayors and district chairpersons in weekly conference calls with the province, and that Public Safety Minister Mike Farnsworth’s willingness to speak frankly and take questions are admirable. He also offered words of praise for B.C. top doctor Bonnie Henry.

“This is going to go on for a while,” the mayor said.

READ MORE: City of Vernon waives interest in response to COVID-19

READ MORE: COVID-19: Okanagan College student pens petition for pass/fail grades

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