The COVID-19 pandemic is bringing communities together, even while forcing people to keep their distance.
One such case is the Craigdarroch neighbourhood, south of Courtenay, between Royston and Union Bay.
Recently, a few residents have mobilized and started an online presence on Facebook called Craigdarroch Community. However, it’s more than simply a virtual presence. Rather, it is one example of how people are looking out for their neighbours in ways they might not have considered a month ago.
The Craigdarroch Beach area is bounded by Spindrift Road to the north, Argyle Road to the south and Kilmarnock Drive, Arran Road, Montrose Drive and Inverness Road in between.
Resident Cori Sandler explains that other places might have some kind of central place where people can post things, but the neighbourhood did not.
The group began with a meeting on a Sunday afternoon in mid-March of about 15 people outside, with people making sure to stand with some space between, to talk about how they could connect, especially if someone needs a hand with something. Sandler was one of the originals, though she says she is only one of the group. She just happened to be the person who started up the Facebook page and credits resident Evelyn Clark with the idea to getting a group together to meet.
“While we were standing there, I just created a Facebook group,” she says. “We’re just a very small community, and we didn’t have a connecting point before.”
They also decided to print up fliers to leave at the 200 or so Craigdarroch households.
“We sent them the first flier that same day,” she adds.
This is especially important for some of the older residents who might not be as comfortable with online communication.
“Some of the members are quite senior,” she says, adding she has a 101-year-old living in her household. “I’m one of those people that’s not going very far from my house and contacting anybody.”
Sandler says the aim is to help people right now with things like picking up groceries or prescriptions, walking dogs or doing yard work, or helping find out health information, especially if someone lives alone and is housebound right now. There is a range of things posted on the Facebook page, including information about COVID-19 but also social notices about people having birthdays and whether they need errands run or can help with something. Sandler, who is a potter, even posted something about how kids can make Play Dough while they’re at home.
They started with the initial group, but about 85 people signed up quickly. She encourages other neighbourhoods to look for ways to get better connected, though from a safe distance, and she knows of other places are already doing this.
“We’re by no means the only community doing this,” she says.