Can you dig it? Lynne Smith, the Area G Saltair/Gulf Islands director for the Cowichan Valley Regional District, did last year during the groundbreaking for the Chemainus Library. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Outdoor spaces abundant in Saltair to maintain physical distancing

Area G director weighs in on how the community’s handling COVID-19 protocol

(Editor’s note – With people hunkered down during the COVID-19 pandemic, we thought it would be a good time to check in with various community leaders about the state of affairs in their jurisdictions. Following is a report from Cowichan Valley Regional District Area G Saltair/Gulf Islands Director Lynne Smith).

Each day, our lives are changing. We are all adapting to a new way of living in our communities and world. Daily, residents continue to adjust. Many are asking how they can help others at this unprecedented time.

In Saltair, we are significantly affected by the closure of our outdoor facilities. The Saltair Centennial Park sports courts, playground, picnic shelter and all our washrooms are closed indefinitely. Our trails and beach accesses are open, and signs are being posted to remind us of the safeguards we need to employ. The Saltair Community Centre is temporarily closed.

We are lucky to live in an area where we can step out of our residences to enjoy fresh air and exercise without violating the two metre (six foot) physical distancing requirement. Everywhere, it is comforting to know we can avoid catching the COVID-19 virus if we frequently and judiciously wash our hands, refrain from touching our faces and keep a safe physical distance from others.

Our traditional Saltair Easter event has been cancelled this year and the Saltair Earth Day Festival has been postponed.

The Saltair Market, which recently reopened, has gardening and grocery items available. It is relatively easy to shop there while maintaining the prescribed six feet of physical separation.

Many Saltair and Thetis Island residents are ordering their groceries online. In Saltair, the 49th Parallel Grocery Blooms flower delivery van can be seen zipping up and down the streets making home deliveries.

In Saltair, it is sad to see the newly opened Coffee Shack, Ma Maison and the Saltair Pub all temporarily closed.

Most days, I walk or cycle the streets in Saltair to check on residents. They are working in their yards, feeling the soil between their fingers, trimming bushes and pulling weeds. Many are out walking and enjoying the great outdoor recreation areas we have in Saltair. Cycling, walking, gardening and chatting to neighbours is our new normal.

The width of a street seems to provide a safe and comfortable amount of physical separation. Neighbours everywhere are talking to each other from opposite sides of a street. This is good to see. A thumbs up from someone at their window is also good to see. In addition, emails and phone calls are helping us stay connected — thank you Alexander Graham Bell.

On Thetis Island, volunteers are exploring new ways to connect and assist. They are finding ways to continue working on projects while ensuring safe physical distancing and encouraging vulnerable residents to remain in their homes.

I thank all our Area G residents for their patience and understanding regarding CVRD services. Everyone at the CVRD is working together to implement required changes to its business and governance practices. The CVRD is striving to ensure our community can continue to receive the essential services it needs and expects. I will continue to post various CVRD news releases and other important Cowichan Valley information on the Saltair News & Views website https://saltairnews.ca/ .

In Saltair, we are challenging each other to create an Easter Tree, Bug Tree, Heart Tree and to clap hands and/or bang pots at 7 p.m. in appreciation of our health and other essential service providers. The 7 p.m. clapping and banging is also a message to each other that says, “We are doing everything we can, and we will beat this pandemic!”

Stay safe.

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