C-19: Redefining ‘Local’

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Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

Even here in rural Pontiac, we notice ‘The Silence’. Perhaps like you, Eric and I pause if we see an airplane. Vehicle traffic is practically non-existent.
Although silence brings with it a greater appreciation for spring’s songbirds’

Our Environment by Katharine Fletcher

Even here in rural Pontiac, we notice ‘The Silence’. Perhaps like you, Eric and I pause if we see an airplane. Vehicle traffic is practically non-existent.
Although silence brings with it a greater appreciation for spring’s songbirds’
beautiful calls, cleaner rivers, lakes and oceans – it represents a world economy incrisis.
The travel industry is particularly hard hit, and although we can certainly claim from an emissions/climate change viewpoint that cleaner air/water are positive, C-19 brings sudden, acute business losses which have dire repercussions. People lose their livelihoods. This has global but importantly, local consequences.
On April 20, I joined a Zoom meeting, organized by Jim Coffey, of Esprit Whitewater, along with local tourism entrepreneurs plus representatives from the MRC Pontiac, Tourisme Outaouais, and local, provincial and federal politicians. It was collaborative, supportive and sobering.
How to attract holidaymakers from beyond MRC Pontiac represents an immense challenge. Will people want to camp, join a team in a raft, rent cabin, dine in restaurants? If international travel is truly paused until 2021, what effect will this have locally?
Our local tourism entrepreneurs believe this year will be tough. (No one
mentioned “disastrous”…)
Creative solutions
Creative thinking defines self-employed entrepreneurs.
Mike Chaput owns L’Ancienne Banque in Chapeau. In mid-March, he started a take-out service at his microbrewery-restaurant. “I have outstanding local support,” he acknowledged.
Todd Hoffman of Brauwerk Hoffman in Campbell’s Bay closed all public facilities but continues brewing and stocking his network of local depanneurs with craft beers.
Both are members of the Tap and Cork Route, a positive tourism initiative born of cross-border collaboration between the MRC Pontiac and Ottawa Valley Tourism Association (tapandcork.ca).
The whitewater, hunting and fishing camp operators are also shifting strategies and target markets. With some MRC borders opening on May 11, hope rises – but the question remains: will clients want to venture far from their homes? How does self-distancing continue during holidays to prevent additional C-19 spikes?
Pontiac producersIndeed, all Pontiac businesspeople are adapting.
Everyone realizes food security is in jeopardy. As a Canadian, empty shelves and lineups shock me–but both are C-19’s new normal.
With Cargill and other slaughterhouses closed due to pandemic infections, reports suggest farmers may need to kill some livestock due to the backlog of live
animals and congestion at their farms. Heartbreaking: farmers love the animals they raise, and this must be dreadful for them.
For meat, many locals are supporting Pontiac producers. With C-19, Shawville’s abattoir, Viandes du Pontiac features deliveries and promotions.
Local support
Wondering how to help your community? Pondering family holidays? Staycations (local holidays) are trending. Stay at Pine Lodge. Fish at Domaine du Lac Bryson with a family of friends. Get a gang together whom you trust and book a rafting trip.
Remember Mahatma Ghandi’s words, “Be the change you want to see in the world” and be creative.
Now more than ever is the time to support local initiatives. So redefine your summer holidays. Redefine stocking your pantry. Redefine everything so every dollar spent is spent in your community.
This is a fine goal. Sure, we might not achieve it 100%, but as a challenge, we can strive for it.
Finally? Reach out. Offer to shop for others. Be kind. Cherish community.

Katharine Fletcher is a Quyon-based author, writer and visual artist: Contact: fletcher.katharine@gmail.com; view her art: facebook.com/Katharine
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