by Mayor Nancy Peckford
For some, as public health protocols continue to diminish, the pandemic may feel like a bit of a distant memory. For others, be they front line employees, health care workers, or seniors and immuno-compromised folks, it likely still looms large. This is especially so given that hospitals are woefully understaffed, burnout is high, and two years of meetings over Zoom, school disruptions and hybrid work arrangements have worn people down. There is also the prospect of a 7th wave this fall.
This said, overwhelmingly, our communities are returning to normal. At the municipal level, while many of our Advisory Committees and Council meetings continue to be on line, there have thankfully been more opportunities to connect in person. I recently met with members of my Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (for the first time!) over pizza– and as good as our online discussions have been in recent months– it was amazing to have a dialogue face to face about the challenges many face in high school.
A recent municipal Heritage Committee meeting was filled with more banter and laughter than could have been achieved on line. It’s becoming clear that while a lot can be, and was achieved in virtual forums, there is tremendous value to in-person interactions when it comes to hearing each other out. At the same time, convening virtually remains a powerful and efficient way to conduct business, and provides unparalleled opportunities for people to participate in local, national and global arenas.
Barriers like distance, time and cost no longer have to be an obstacle, and in our own community, working remotely is more common than ever. In certain instances, volunteering is often more possible when you can hop onto a Zoom call (vs making the drive and effort for an in person meeting).
As we enter a very busy summer here in North Grenville, it’s remarkable to see events and activities come to life that were largely conceived and planned during those long pandemic months. Kemptville’s first ever Buskerfest held over the May long weekend is but one example. It attracted hundreds to our downtown core, and offered some unique and compelling entertainment.
The recent North Grenville Pride celebrations that took place in Riverside Park was another. Despite two years of virtual celebrations only, a parade through the downtown attracted a broad coalition of families, schools, churches, banks, and businesses keen to show their support.
North Grenville’s Canada Day festivities and Kemptville Live will also return in person this year. Bringing people together (while remaining apart) for two consecutive Canada Days was the priority of the Kemptville District Community Association. In 2020, and again in 2021, while the world felt rather upside down at times, the organizers hosted a variety of virtual activities, including contests like the virtual goose chase, paddle poker run, as well as some wonderful online entertainment.
This year’s activities will return to in person affairs at Riverside Park and in Oxford Mills and, while there will be so many activities to embrace during these in person events, and the long-awaited return of fireworks, the legacy of past year’s celebrations has created a strong foundation for this year’s events.
Kemptville Live is another signature event that, during the pandemic, seized the opportunity to offer some exceptional talent via a series of virtual livestream concerts held at the historic Purvis Hall on Kemptville Campus. The upper floor offered fantastic acoustics and a special experience for participating musicians. This year’s line-up promises to be a fulfilling concert experience for regulars and the newly initiated.
And of course, then there is Participaction! North Grenville is currently in the process of defending its title of Canada’s Most Active community. We currently rank #2 in the country, with Red Deer Alberta recently taking the top spot- but there is time to reassume our lead.
Remarkably, North Grenville secured the title in 2021 during the middle of the pandemic by embracing opportunities for outdoor activities, and keeping it simple. We beat a lot of larger urban centres (and won $100,000) by logging more minutes (per capita) than any other community – and ensuring North Grenville’s daycares, schools, senior’s centres, Community Living participants and kids were all involved.
Whether you are an individual, or family, signing up for the Challenge is simple – and it’s not too late to start tracking your minutes. All activity counts – golfing, gardening, washing your car, chasing the kids around the yard, walking, and organized fitness. Just go to www.northgrenville.ca/getactive or download the APP on your phone.
Our experience with the Participaction Challenge shows us that when we put our minds to something, there truly is no stopping us. In this respect, North Grenville has proven itself to be a remarkably spirited and cohesive place through good times and bad. We’ve got a lot to look forward to in the coming months, and we hope you seize the opportunity to join in the fun.