CALGARY (660 NEWS) — “There’s nowhere better in the world to be than right here.”
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, speaking to 660 NEWS from his home office, is aware we are in a strange situation during the COVID-19 pandemic, and just like other Calgarians, he is trying to adapt to the dramatic shift.
However, there are some positive signs that have already come out of it such as the solid collaboration between different levels of government and the majority of people listening to strict public health guidelines.
“It’s critical that right now, we’ve got big-brained people thinking about what the other side of this looks like. I don’t know when that is, I know it’s not measured in days and it’s probably not measured in weeks. It’s probably measured in months,” Nenshi cautioned.
Councillors are having nightly chats where they keep each other apprised of the situation and new ideas come forward, such as a possible plan to turn quieter roadways into pedestrian thoroughfares.
#yyccc meets in a group chat every night at 6pm to debrief & strategize w CEMA & senior admin. Taking underutilized road space for active modes is broadly supported w particular advocacy from @BigRedyyc & @DruhFarrell. The @O2design plan is in admin’s hands. We’re actioning it.
— Gian-Carlo Carra (@gccarra) March 25, 2020
Nenshi had no specific updates on that plan but said it fits into the wider message going to Calgarians that it is still safe to go outside for a walk — as long as you’re smart about it.
This includes avoiding travelling in large groups and sticking close to your own neighbourhood so that parks do not become overcrowded.
However, those coming in from vacation or otherwise told to self-isolate need to follow the orders, or there could be the consequence of wider quarantine directives.
“Selfishness will not work,” said Nenshi. “Because it’s not just selfishness for yourself, but you really, really run the risk of making other people sick and we know that people not showing symptoms can still be contagious.”
He wants Calgarians to imagine that everyone you come into contact with is your 90-year-old grandmother and you must use the utmost caution in every interaction outside your home.
Nenshi added that children will also have a lot of questions about the situation, and that is why he will be answering questions from young Calgarians and those queries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the governmental level, there is a lot of work happening in terms of how businesses can be supported and uplifted when the crisis subsides, and also how homeowners and renters can be protected.
Nenshi is happy to see the supports coming in from the provincial and federal governments, though it is still hard to fully gauge the impact in these early days.
The mayor also touched on renters, a day after NDP leader Rachel Notley called for a ban on evictions, and said landlords need to be lenient right now and said anyone who kicks out a tenant is going to have a hard time filling that space and it will hurt more people in the long run.
That said, conversations are ongoing with the province specifically on how to protect homeowners and renters.
Nenshi said the situation will get worse and there will be many more cases, but it’s not the time to wallow in despair or start to panic. It is also not the time to completely self-isolate at the detriment of your mental health.
“Even though we’re physically apart, we need to come closer together. And what does that mean? It means use your FaceTime and your WhatsApp and your Zoom, and the other apps that I’ve had to learn how to use since I’ve started working from home, to reach out to people,” said Nenshi, adding that your elderly relatives especially need the attention.
“Right now, frustration and anger are luxuries we can’t afford. Every single decision we make — as a government, as human beings, as individuals — has to be clear headed and purposeful and it has to be focused on keeping everyone safe.”
There is also a chance that there is a silver lining and society can emerge even stronger out of the crisis, similar to how the city rose from crises such as previous financial crashes and the 2013 floods. Nenshi said that will only be possible if we all work together to get through the initial, sometimes frightening, stages.
“Things on the other side of this will probably look different,” he said. “We’ve figured out possible ways of working from home, we’ve figured out ways to decrease social distance even though there’s physical difference and I bet the world will look different.”
“The future is in our own hands.”