We’ve got this, Revelstoke

It's Revelstoke's time to come together and shed light onto these dark times.

File photo: Downtown Revelstoke during a Saturday summer market. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

We’re in the midst of an undeniably transformative world event, adjusting to so many new realities brought on by a public health emergency that’s led to massive economic disruption. It’s difficult to wrap your mind around the many implications of a situation that continues to evolve by the minute.

With so much going sideways so quickly, I for one am glad to be facing this challenge in Revelstoke, a community that comes together during times of adversity.

I’m dropping you a line, Revelstoke, to share some encouragement during these dark days.

Revelstoke has ground to a halt, with new provincial regulations announced Tuesday night closing schools and all but essential public buildings, like groceries and pharmacies.

New border restrictions and international airline cancellations, paired with mandatory isolation, has international travel slowing to a halt. Declaring a public health emergency has given the provincial government new on-the-ground powers, including police enforcement.

Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine editor Aaron Orlando.

On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a series of federal measures, including the effective border closure, which restricts on non-essential travel in and out of Canada. The feds also unveiled $27 billion in direct support and $55 billiion in tax deferrals. New initiatives designed to blunt the financial impact include a 14-week emergency care benefit for those that are ill, need to self-isolate, or care for someone with COVID-19. The Canada Child Care benefit will be temporarily boosted, and the GST credit will increase for eligible people, up to $300 per individual and $150 per child. The feds announced a six-month interest-free student loan moratorium, and boosted a homelessness program.

Take COVID-19 prevention steps seriously

I think it’s important to note the B.C. COVID-19 leadership team you see on video conferences each day is doing a good job, and our best bet for a better COVID-19 outcome is to follow their lead and do what they say. And really do it — by now, you should be acting like an adult on COVID-19 precautions — flippant attitudes and practices are going extinct fast.

There has been a confirmed case in Revelstoke and another visitor who later tested positive for COVID-19. The fire drills are over, it’s real now, and it’s unclear how long our new practices of isolation, distancing, hand-washing, and so on will last. It’s the new reality we’re all adjusting to quickly.

With so much changing so fast, even if you’re not a big news consumer, it’s important to keep up with the play.

It’s also apparent that so much has changed on the economic front, and the coming disruption and change will hit sectors important to Revelstoke like travel, hospitality and many more. Across the continent, everyone is taking a hit, and Revelstoke’s basket of economic sectors will be hit particularly hard.

So many are already out of work due to workplace closures, and so many don’t know where there next rent or mortgage payment is going to come from. So many business owners are struggling to trying to find a way forward in the darkness. It’s good to hear the first federal financial relief measures announced today; any special federal or provincial assistance for working people will help here.

It won’t be the first time Revelstoke has faced big challenges. The 2008 financial meltdown couldn’t have come at a worse time, but we did recover. Mega projects like dams, tunnels, highways, railways and infrastructure upgrades created boom and bust cycles, making life here harder as the economy swung low as the projects ended. When times get tough, Revelstoke has come together to help one another through the challenging times.

Due to our unique rural setting an hour-or-so drive away from relying on someone else, Revelstoke has historically had to do as much as it can in-house. This self-reliance streak runs pretty deep in the community, one characteristic being people come together for common purposes and causes. I’m sure Revelstoke will find common purpose in doing all it can to prevent COVID-19 virus spread by getting educated and following through.

I’m certain that the community of Revelstoke will rally to face the economic challenges COVID-19 has brought with it; we’re already seeing first steps. Those facing uncertainty and stress around bills and rent need to know they’re not alone and help will come. Those struggling to find a way to keep moving forward will find support, compassion, and empathy from friends and community members.

It’s a time-to-shine moment for us all, including those who are still relatively new to the community. One thing that I’ve learned in my dozen years here is you’ll be welcomed if you show up to help (and keep a safe social distance!) Over the coming days, many opportunities to help will arise; I encourage you to get involved, not only to help others, but to help yourself find purpose at this challenging time.

There’s no sugarcoating this: it’s going to be a long, hard struggle that will bring even more challenges, and we’re going to suffer through painful tragedies and losses.

It really does feel like the darkest hour now, but we can overcome this challenge by sticking together and looking out for one another. I know for sure that the community will rally and it will provide you with help and opportunities to help. Take advantage of them.

Our best bet to stay as whole as we can is to find ways to help, find ways to connect, find ways to be our best selves, and find our own ways to make a difference for someone else. When we come together to shine, we will find a way to shed light onto these dark times.

Aaron Orlando is a Revelstoke-based journalist who serves as creative director of revelstokemountaineer.com and Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. He's been on the news beat in Revelstoke for the past 14 years, serving in senior editorial roles. If you have aaron@revelstokemountaineer.com or call/text him at 250-814-8710.