By Parry-Sound Muskoka MP Scott Aitchison
As I write this column, I hope that you and your family are safe and well. I am also seeing hopeful signs that we are slowly but surely getting through this COVID-19 pandemic.
I urge everyone to stay the course and continue to follow the guidance of provincial and federal health experts. We will get through this. I also hope that when we do get through this global pandemic, we will become more united as a community, and a country.
I am worried about the simmering divisions happening here in Parry Sound-Muskoka right now. Fear and anxiety have exposed resentment between many who live here seasonally and many who live here permanently.
To be clear, I am not advocating a wholesale return to life as normal too early. I have also encouraged everyone to heed the advice of officials to physically distance and self-isolate when appropriate.
All residents of Parry Sound-Muskoka—seasonal and permanent—are residents. We have a mutually beneficial and interdependent relationship that has helped to make our area prosper socially, culturally, and financially.
I know that the vast majority of all residents are doing their part to follow COVID-19 guidelines. There is no doubt that a few residents—seasonal and permanent—have not been as conscientious about physical distancing practice, but this is absolutely no reason to generalize about any group.
For those seasonal residents staying at your Parry Sound or Muskoka home—stay there! Please don’t be of the belief it is business as usual however. You all contribute so much to the community and I hope you will continue to contribute now by staying home—whichever home that is.
For those permanent residents, please know that residents who have more than one home are no less important to our community than anyone else. For many seasonal residents, the ‘cottage’ is often the one true family home—the one home that through generations has been the place where they have always gathered at to connect and build lasting family memories.
I know that many seasonal residents appreciate the support of local businesses and neighbours to help them maintain their family homes.
We rely on each other and we will continue to rely on each other. Don’t let fear and anxiety destroy a relationship that has helped create a sense of community which is the envy of so many other regions of Ontario.
I am reminded of a sermon from years ago delivered by Pastor Darrel Baker at Faith Baptist Church. He was speaking on the Golden Rule. He shared many examples and stories to illustrate the power of this simple message. In the end, he paused for a moment and as if off script he simply summed his message up this way: “just be nice”. He shrugged his shoulders a little and quietly concluded, “just…be…nice”.
A powerful message that I try to remember every day.
We all need to be kind to each other. We will get through this together and soon get back to the work of building a more vibrant, resilient and prosperous community.
(Photo of Parliament Hill by festivio on Pixabay. Photo of Scott Aitchison courtesy of Scott Aitchison.)
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