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Looking forward to better year ahead

Good riddance to 2021. From COVID-19, wildfires, a boil water advisory, highway collisions, economic impacts on businesses, increased living costs and a plethora of other setbacks, the last 12 months have somehow found a way to be worse than 2020.
December 30, 2021
Cartoon by Patrick LaMontagne/www.lamontagneart.com.

Good riddance to 2021.

From COVID-19, wildfires, a boil water advisory, highway collisions, economic impacts on businesses, increased living costs and a plethora of other setbacks, the last 12 months have somehow found a way to be worse than 2020.

The bulk of the country has been impacted by necessary public health restrictions to protect people from the novel coronavirus, but it has meant sacrificing normality for roughly the past 20 months.

More than 30,000 Canadians have been confirmed to have died from COVID-19 – a faster rate of death than either the First or Second World Wars – and nearly 1.95 million people have had the virus.

The long-term impacts of those who have tested positive are still unknown and could continue to have an affect on the country’s healthcare system for decades to come.

In Alberta, the province has led the way in how not to handle a public health crisis as it has consistently tripped over its feet by way of lack of leadership.

The battering of Canada’s healthcare system will take several years to recover financially, but more concerning is the impact and toll it has taken on staff that could results in many experienced workers to leave the sector.

A pair of wildfires to the east of Canmore in the summer gave rise to the very real concern the threat of fire can bring to local communities. To the west of the Bow Valley, British Columbia continues to face floods and fires as climate change remains the greatest threat to the Earth.

The cost of living continued to soar for many people as wages remained largely stagnated, as businesses struggled to survive. The aid programs from the federal government helped, but the lack of employees created another cause for concern as both the public and private sectors continue to experience staffing shortages.

The disruption to the supply chain and logistical management systems have led to significant increases in costs for individuals, businesses and governments, while inflation has skyrocketed and has little sign of falling.

The soaring price of housing has led many people to be priced out of homeownership and the cost of renting is taking up significantly more of people’s budgets, leading to less money being saved or spent elsewhere.

There were some highlights as the COVID-19 vaccine rolled out and most people were wise enough to take part to help bring the pandemic closer to an end.

Tourism agencies such as Tourism Canmore Kananaskis, Tourism Alberta and Banff and Lake Louise Tourism predicted a return to pre-COVID-19 visitation and revenue between 2023 and 2025.

Residents continued to embrace alternate modes of transit from strictly vehicles as routes for Roam transit are set to expand in 2022 and cycling and trail infrastructure is growing.

Environmental programs are expanding at local levels to mitigate climate change impacts, though more serious action is needed at the provincial and federal levels.

Workers also pushed back and demanded better treatment, better wages and more action from employers to improve working conditions, work-life balance and salaries to help the growing cost of living.

There are still many uncertainties for the coming year.

The pandemic is still ongoing and will likely affect tourism and businesses well into 2023. The threat of wildfire – especially as climate change continues to worsen – is always on the horizon for the Bow Valley.

The cost of living for many people will remain a burden as local municipalities take action in their limited capacities to do so, while the province likely dawdles on action until closer to the 2023 election.

For now, though, there’s the hope of a better 12 months ahead.

Here’s to a better 2022.