It is hard to believe that it is a year since the start of the pandemic. Last March it never occurred to any of us that today we would be living in our individual bubbles, working from home, physically distancing, wearing masks and washing our hands several times a day. I know it has been particularly tough on our seniors who have been confined to their homes and have a gone a year without hugging their children or grandchildren.
While we must continue to be vigilant, the good news is that the recent launch of the public vaccination program provides hope and reason for optimism.
As we reflect on the past year, I want to thank our City employees for their diligence, professionalism and flexibility. While caring for their own families and juggling the demands of work, homeschooling their children and supporting elderly parents, they continued to ensure our needs were met. Our Administrative team rethought how to provide services and developed effective and customer-friendly approaches and solutions. The staff at Public Works kept our roads and parks clean, while Public Security shopped for seniors and checked in on our most vulnerable. The Library and Community events team taught us that the library is more than just books – it is the heart of our community. The Sports and Recreation team has done its best to keep us physically active, offering a wide range of programming on-line and innovating with initiatives like our new refrigerated skating rink in Westmount Park and toboggan runs at King George Park with man-made snow.
On a personal note, l wish to thank my colleagues on City Council for their support and their laser-like focus on finding creative solutions to the challenges we faced.
What has impressed me the most throughout this ordeal is the thoughtfulness and kindness of our neighbours. We are so grateful to our health-care workers, particularly those on the front lines who have put their own well-being at risk for the safety of others. We are full of admiration for staff at grocery stores and pharmacies, who have ensured we continue to benefit from essential services. We marvel at our local entrepreneurs, who have adapted and innovated in order to stay afloat. And, of course, we are inspired by the community spirit and compassion of Westmounters who have been reaching out to one another, checking-in on the elderly and buying groceries for shut-ins.
So many times, over the past year I have witnessed the absolute best in people. Seeing the Rabbi quietly shopping early in the morning for seniors at Metro. Hearing stories of younger residents making vaccine appointments for their elderly neighbours. Watching the teachers in our community go the extra mile for their students and use our parks and greenspaces as their classrooms. Residents making food for the community of Cabot Square and supporting the work of Resilience. These people are the heroes of COVID-19.
In looking ahead, I urge everyone to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. At the same time, let’s begin thinking about Westmount after the pandemic and how we will incorporate the lessons learned into our programming and activities.
More than ever, we appreciate that our parks and greenspaces are the hub of our communal activities, that supporting our local commercial areas is critical to the vitality of our city and that on-line services are an effective way of reaching Westmounters.
But perhaps the most important lesson is that our strength is our community spirit and our commitment to supporting and watching out for each other, especially our most vulnerable.
Christina M. Smith
Mayor of the City of Westmount