COVID Signpost 100 Days: Spotlight on the Prairies and the North

Hosted by Michael Redhead Champagne, Public Speaker & Youth Mentor, CUI Regional Lead, Winnipeg, MB. Featuring Rebecca Alty, Mayor, Yellowknife, Markus Chambers, Deputy Mayor, Winnipeg, Mark Head & Christopher Clacio, Inter Civics Commons, Pamela Goulden-McLeod, Director of Emergency Management Service, City of Saskatoon.

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. This pandemic has proved how necessary civic engagement is.

Whether it be by offering community-based resources or holding lawmakers accountable, people in cities across Canada must be actively involved in the governance process. Christoper Clacio and Mark Head engage with this notion on a daily basis through their work with Inter Civics; however, this has been made difficult by the impossibility of face-to-face interaction. Communities can make their needs clear by engaging with other organizations and with those in positions of authority.

2. Creative thinking and innovative solutions are needed now more than ever.

Lawmakers, businesses, and communities alike have demonstrated immense creativity over the past 100 days, and this momentum must continue. Rebecca Alty, the mayor of Yellowknife, offers examples of this creativity in Yellowknife’s decisions to stagger landfill openings in order to preserve salvaging culture, and how local spas have begun offering digital facials by mailing their clients materials.

3. Long-term planning, both financial and urban, must factor into continuity and risk management.

The past 100 days of the COVID pandemic have proved that the unknown is absolutely a possibility. More importantly, however, is how this pandemic has revealed what planners, builders, and lawmakers are truly capable of. It is more sustainable to adapt thought-out support measures than to indefinitely extend emergency response measures. This way, even the most vulnerable are protected no matter the circumstance. That said, when things remain uncertain, Pamela Goulden-McLeod highlighted the necessity to “build back better.”

4. We are all in this together: municipalities should find ways to collaborate.

Whether it be expanding the boundaries for urban policy practice or engaging in collaborative city building across regions, now is the time for collective innovations. Pamela Goulden-McLeod emphasized how the pandemic has revealed the long-term necessity of establishing relationships across networks and agencies so that no one must fend for themselves. This need for collaboration is stressed further in “For The Benefit of All”, a 2019 report by Dr. Robert Murray which examines the need for collaboration in the Winnipeg Metro Region municipalities.

5. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the powerful role of mental health and wellbeing.

Many of our panelists stressed the mental toll caused by distancing regulations, the pandemic, and a financial crisis. People are unable to seek assistance and grieve collectively in ways previously available. Adjusting to the “new normal” from the confines of your own home is deeply isolating. As cities look ahead to empowering their communities, they must consider how to help those whose mental wellbeing are at stake.