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EDITORIAL – Chamber takes simplistic approach to getting back to work

(Image: CFJC Today)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

A PROPOSAL BY THE KAMLOOPS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE that the City scrap any thoughts of cutting back on major infrastructure projects would seem to go against all measures of common sense.

The chamber says public bodies need to generate economic activity, and that the pandemic is an ideal time to work on projects because other activities won’t be disrupted.

Aside from the challenges such an approach would pose for physical distancing, there’s the inescapable fact the City faces a multi-million-dollar deficit — and the City isn’t allowed to run deficits.

The chamber uses the words “as many … as possible” when it talks about charging ahead with projects like upgrades to the aquatic centre and Tranquille Road sewer lines, meaning it’s not suggesting distancing guidelines be abandoned. Simple, right?

It can’t be denied that a reckoning between the current strategy against COVID-19 and fears that it could ruin the economy — not just damage it — may come soon.

The voice of business straining under the yoke of shutdowns will continue to grow regardless of government subsidies that try to soften the blow.

So is some kind of compromise “possible”? Maybe.

A study by scientists at the University of Toronto and University of Guelph on what they call “dynamic” social distancing has concluded that “periodic” loosening of social restrictions based on the number of available Intensive Care Units could save the economy.

As the curve rises, restrictions would go back into effect. They call it riding the wave but it’s more like a roller coaster ride until a vaccine is developed.

The proposal is based on mathematical modelling and it’s complicated. It might be the kind of balanced health-based approach we need to take to this conundrum, not a simplistic one dominated by business interests, as well-meaning as they might be.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7715 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Chamber takes simplistic approach to getting back to work

  1. Sean McGuinness // April 13, 2020 at 7:42 AM // Reply

    What we’re doing now is not sustainable in the long run. Eventually things are going to have to open up. As we speak, construction work is going on (at the hospital, university etc). I think any kinds of work not involving large congregations of people in limited space should be allowed to carry on. At some point, we have to trust voluntary social distancing. We should keep an eye on the spread of the virus by more testing in the community, and we should, when possible allow the kinds of activities where voluntary social distancing is possible,

  2. There are already (and there will be more coming soon) people in dire need of financial help and the government can compensate only so much. It is a crazy, unpredictable and unprecedented situation and complicated mathematics maybe a tough sell at the dinner table while staring at an empty dish. And yet it is because we have been paying too much attention to the economy and too little attention to nature and the environment that got us in this crazy, unpredictable and unprecedented situation. If the law of the jungle sets in though, our troubles will just increase.

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