Colin Plant: Thanks for making a difference

A commentary by the chairman of the Capital Regional District.

As an elected official, I am happiest in my community, talking to people and learning about them. As a teacher, I am happiest in my classroom, engaging my students and expanding their knowledge.

Due to COVID-19, both of these activities have changed significantly, and I am finding new ways to connect with others, such as sharing videos of my e-bike rides throughout the region. I have come to realize it is so important to stay connected to each other even as we have to stay apart.

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We are living through challenging and unprecedented times. You have heard this before and will hear it again. But we are living. l am optimistic we will all continue to behave in a manner that allows us to look back with pride at how we acted during this pandemic.

It is not hyperbole to say the world has changed in a matter of weeks and will never be the same. How do we adapt? How do we support each other? How do we move forward? How do we take care of those in need? Tough questions.

As chair of the Capital Regional District board and a Saanich councillor, I ask myself these same questions. I also ask them as a father, husband, teacher, neighbour and friend. While I do not have all the answers, I do find solace knowing we are all going through this together.

During the public health and provincial emergency, the CRD and other local governments have taken direction from the provincial health officer and the minister of public safety and solicitor general. Local governments have had to work to ensure essential services have remained in place while protecting their workers.

CRD board meetings have also changed. Our procedures have been adapted to support remote access to meetings. It feels as if I have spent more time on the phone and participating in electronic meetings during the past five weeks than I have in the past five years.

These days, we celebrate and support our front-line workers in health care, first responders and those working in the service industry. The CRD also continues to operate and maintain crucial services that are critical to the well-being, health and safety of our residents.

Significant effort has been put into maintaining our safe supply of drinking water, wastewater services, solid-waste management, affordable housing, and emergency services. In these uncertain times, I do not take anything for granted and I am proud to know that we are still providing these basic services to residents.

On behalf of the entire CRD board, I would like to thank all the CRD employees who have been working so hard during these difficult times. Thanks, of course, go to you, our residents, as well. Your behaviour in our regional parks to follow social-distancing orders and use our parks and trails responsibly has been an important factor in keeping them open.

When I was asked to serve on the Rapid Relief Fund leadership committee, I immediately accepted. As a member of the committee, I provide input into the proposed funding recipients and to ensure efficient stewardship of resources based on funds available and areas of greatest need.

Each week, I am so impressed to see the list of applications and the proposed use of funds. More than 50 organizations from all over the region are making a difference in a rapid way that is truly inspiring.

Thank you to the Victoria Foundation, the Times Colonist and the Jawl family for spearheading this initiative and to all those who have stepped up to donate. Please be generous during this time, and as Dr. Bonnie Henry tells us, be kind, be calm and be safe.

Contributing back to society is more important than ever right now. I look forward to seeing the impact your contributions will make and getting back to whatever becomes our new normal.

HOW TO DONATE

Tax receipts will be issued. If you are open to receiving your tax receipt by PDF, please include an email address with your donation.

• Online: RapidReliefFund.ca

• Phone: 250-381-5532

• Mail: Send cheques (made out to the Victoria Foundation) to RapidRelief Fund, Victoria Foundation, 200-703 Broughton St., Victoria V8W 1E2

The Rapid Relief Fund was created by the Victoria Foundation, the Jawl Foundation and the Times Colonist to help people in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. CHEK Television, Coast Outdoor Advertising and Black Press are helping to boost awareness. Every dollar received from donations goes out as grants to the community.

Donations are being distributed through the Victoria Foundation.

victoriafoundation.bc.ca/rapid-relief-fund-disbursements

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