Earth Week activities will go ahead this year, but because of the restrictions surrounding the number of people at an event and the physical distancing of two metres between people, the group events such as the annual Earth Day planting will not happen. (Summerland Review file photo)

Summerland Earth Week events affected by COVID-19

Individual focus rather than group activities during pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic will not stop Summerland from holding its Earth Week activities later this month, but the week will take a different tone.

Tami Rothery, sustainability/alternative energy coordinator for Summerland, said Earth Week events will go ahead as they have for more than a decade, but instead of holding group activities, the emphasis will be on activities to do alone or as a family.

“We had a really great series of events planned,” she said. “Now we’re giving people things they can do on their own.”

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The pandemic has resulted in restrictions prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people and requiring people to keep a physical distance of two metres from each other. In addition, the guidelines ask that people not gather with those who do not live within their households. As a result, group events have become difficult if not impossible to organize.

But Rothery said the community will still be able to celebrate the environmentally-themed week.

She hopes that in the fall, the pandemic will have come to an end and the community will be able to hold environmentally-themed events together at that time.

“What this crisis has really shown me is we do have the possibility to come together to address this threat to our well-being,” she said. “There’s opportunity in every crisis.”

She hopes to see the community — and the planet — come together after the COVID-19 pandemic to address environmental threats.

Rothery added that while the pandemic is taking its toll, she is noticing a growing community spirit as neighbours are looking out for each other during the time of physical distancing and isolation.

“We had already been talking about how to build more resilient neighbourhoods,” she said. “I’m interested in how we can keep the momentum going.”

Earth Day was first held on April 22, 1970 as a celebration with an environmental emphasis. Earth Day saw a resurgence beginning in 1990. In more recent years, many communities, including Summerland, have held Earth Week events.

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