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General News · 26th March 2020
Noba Anderson
We are so beyond blessed to call Cortes Island home, especially in these times of acute disruption and change. We are so privileged to have community leadership that pulls together now, to find our collective intelligence. Representatives from over 30 key community organizations, programs and businesses joined me on one or both of two recent large on-line conference calls. The first call was designed to share with each other how we are responding to Covid-19 and its social and economic fall-out. Please see the Cortes Current’s report on that call at https://cortescurrents.ca/can-cortes-self-isolate/

The second call was to build shared messaging for you all, your loved ones and our visitors in these unprecedented times. That is the messaging you will find below. Tomorrow, our group of community leaders will meet again to discuss how to best organize internally as an island community, and a team of local techies are creating on-line communication platforms to help us all do that better.

I will be hosting a call soon with a few key organizations about how to help select, support and fund key priority resilience projects. And Tuesday, March 31st at 5:30 pm, I will be hosting an on-line town hall meeting where everyone will be welcome to come get updates on our collective work, ask questions, share ideas and build our collective resilience. I will post the call-in info at www.cortesisland.com by Saturday.

The collective intelligence of the consulted Cortes community leadership is that these coming weeks will be a particularly critical time and that we ask everyone to act as if they have Covid-19 and take the greatest of care to not transmit it to others.

For Us All: We ask that we all stay home as much as possible and that when we go out into public spaces we do so only for essential reasons and then keep our distance from each other at all times. We are blessed by the space around us, our yards, our forests and beaches and encourage us to enjoy these spaces on our own. Please do not go into other people’s homes or invite others into yours unless you are inviting them into your own self-quarantine space.

For Tourists: This is simply not a time for regular tourist travel. Please do not come. We have limited services, limited health-care, and no social gathering spaces. We have asked all accommodations to not accept tourist travel at this time. Hollyhock is closed. Cortes Island Vacation Rentals is closed. The Gorge Marina is closed to visitors. If you do not have a supported place in which to self-quarantine, please do not come.

For People Coming to the Island: A Federal 14 day self-isolation order is now in affect for anyone coming from an international destination. It includes extending the self isolation period for 10 days if you develop any respiratory symptoms during the 14 day isolation period. This is now law and enforceable by the RCMP. We ask that if you are coming from far afield, even from within BC, that you now do the same. Please self-isolate for 14 days. This requires that you have a solid place to land upon your arrival, that you do not stop at the local store on your way there, that you come fully provisioned to support yourself for two weeks or that you have a buddy system that can support you with any of your needs. Today, the Province of BC declared a state of emergency which includes their ability to ‘control or prohibit travel to or from any area of BC.’ Travel on BC Ferries may well soon be limited.

Going to Town for the Day: The BC State of Emergency may soon limit our trips to town. Members of our Cortes medical team will be developing a decision-support tool to help you assess the importance of your potential town trip. Clearly some trips need to be made. Your key medical appointments still need attending. Our grocery stores still need provisions. Family re-unification still needs to happen. But we ask, especially for the next couple of weeks, that this be kept to a bare minimum!! Use delivery service wherever you can. Shop locally wherever possible. Our stores are reporting summer-levels of usage. Let’s keep it that way! Our ferry traffic is down. Let’s reduce it further.

For Trades People: We ask that all off-island trades people NOT come to the island until April 15th! This is a critical time. For local trades people, we ask that you use an abundance of caution when working on island to protect yourself and your clients, which essentially means not entering people’s homes. If you are hiring a trades person, please ask them if they are feeling well, and if they have been off island in the last two weeks.

For Ferries: We have asked that the lounge be closed on the Cortes ferry, that cash payment be still accepted when travellers have no others options and that an information circular with a concise version of this information be handed out at the ticket wicket to all Cortes-bound travelers. BC Ferries is seeing traffic volumes down by 40-50% fleet wide from this time last year. Let’s lower this ever further here!

For Seasonal Property Owners: We ask that if you have an empty house to which you will not be able to return this summer, that you consider offering its use to a local who does not have the appropriate space to self-isolate. I have asked the Housing Society to try to manage a matching program for this purpose and will await their public communication.

For Vacation Rental Property Owners: As of yesterday, the Province put a ban on almost all rental evections. This is now enforceable by law. We ask that all property owners respect this ban and encourage their existing tenants to stay put. We further ask that ALL short-term vacation rentals be cancelled until the end of May.

These are indeed extraordinary times. The message could not be clearer. As a species, we have overstepped are welcome on this planet, and we have failed to rain ourselves in. The message could not be clearer. Slow down. Be still. Travel less. Buy less disposable crap made on the other side of the world. Source locally. Go into nature. Go into your garden. Spend time with loved ones. Be still. Take a time out. Cover your mouth but not your ears. Be still. Listen.

A few good resources:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support
https://srd.ca/covid-19-information/
https://cortesradio.ca/

With all my heart, Noba Anderson, Regional Director, Cortes Island