As COVID-19 cases continue to appear across B.C., including the first case on Vancouver Island, individuals, organizations and businesses on the Saanich Peninsula have already cancelled some events, while keeping an eye on developments.
Kenny Podmore, Sidney’s Town Crier, won’t be flying to England to visit his family, because of COVID-19, having already cancelled his trip last week for fears of not being able to return. As a senior, he also falls into the risk category. The global spread has also acquired a personal dimension for Podmore. His sister-in-law is currently recovering in a hospital where a patient has died of COVID-19.
Jordan Milne, president and chief executive officer of GMC Projects, announced Thursday morning that his company has postponed until further notice a community meeting scheduled for March 18 to consider his company’s proposed re-development of the Cedarwood Inn and Suites. His cited reasons included among others the desire to protect vulnerable groups such as seniors.
Just under 41 per cent of Sidney’s 11,672 residents (2016 Census) are 65 years and older, with 9.7 per cent 85 years and older. The corresponding figures for North Saanich’s 11,249 residents are 31.7 per cent and 2.9 per cent, for Central Saanich’s 16,814 residents, 25.5 per cent and 4.3 per cent.
Health officials across the world have not only singled out senior residents as a high risk category, but also asked individuals to avoid events that draw large crowds. While traditional events drawing large crowds of locals and visitors onto Sidney street are still some time off, Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre is a popular venue for touring musicians, speakers and other events.
Philip Sutton, theatre manager, said Wednesday afternoon that his office has not had any cancellations or received requests to cancel events at the centre. Nor is the centre currently anticipating any cancellations, he added.
Kerry Reedshaw, communication manager for Beacon Community Services, which operates Sidney’s SHOAL Centre for Seniors, said her organization has seen a modest downturn of attendance to its variety of programs.
“We are not seeing a significant impact at this point,” she said. “There may be situations, where attendance might be slowing down a bit, where perhaps people are choosing to stay home and re-evaluate.” Reedshaw added that her organization will continue to monitor the situation around COVID-19 in conjunction with health authorities to see whether it might be necessary to cancel offerings.
Overall, life in Sidney appears to unfold normally, but there is also evidence of change in the air. As Wednesday afternoon wound down, an employee at LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services on Bevan Avenue could be seen wiping down the door handles on the business.