As COVID-19 related closures, restrictions and transformations rip across the Elk Valley, many changes have also occurred within the municipality of Sparwood.
Without surprise, one of the hardest hit demographics has been the elderly. Currently, Sparwood’s senior housing complex, Lilac Terrace, is on lock down in an effort to protect their residents. According to Michelle Malan, administrator for Lilac Terrace, the residents remain in good spirits. Though leaving the premises is avoided whenever possible, residents are still allowed to go on walks, get fresh air, and attend medical appointments.
“Things are going great here. I haven’t had anybody come and complain about feeling lonely, isolated, or bored yet,” said Malan. “Perhaps part of the reason is because our residents still occasionally see each other in the hallways, or at the main entrance. In doing so, they have a little window of opportunity to catch up and chat, while remaining a safe distance apart. I won’t say spirits are high, but they aren’t low.”
Last Thursday, Lilac Terrace’s occupants were joyously surprised with an outdoor concert, as six members of the community volunteered their time to sing for the residents. Standing outside in the back parking lot, the musicians serenaded roughly 10 seniors, who happily listened from opened windows and balconies.
“There is one resident, a very kind gentleman, who told me that it was so nice of them to come and sing for us. He then said, ‘it’s just a pity I’m deaf, I couldn’t hear a word.’ He still went outside on his balcony and enjoyed the show, even though he couldn’t hear anything,” said Malan.
Lilac Terrace would love to host more events like this in the future in an effort to continue bringing delight to their residents. Not having anything planned as of yet, Malan is open to the community coming forth with any ideas.
“I am very thankful for the people from our community who come out to lift the spirits of our residents, even in such difficult times. It is absolutely amazing. There are no words to explain how wonderful these acts of kindness are,” said Malan.
Another initiative created to spread happiness throughout the community is Sparwood’s Scavenger Hunt and Birthday Drive Thru Facebook groups. More information on these projects can be found on page A18.
In terms of ongoing services, the Sparwood Health Centre remains open, however with precautions to avoid the potential spread of the virus. Such efforts include attempts to limit unnecessary visits, as well as testing out other avenues of consultation such as video or phone appointments. Non urgent follow ups such as routine screening exams are expected to be delayed at this time. This being said, emergency rooms remain open for emergencies, however will screen patients regarding symptoms and travel history. For those requiring an appointment, the Sparwood Health Centre can be reached at 250-425-6212.
Sparwood’s Save On Foods has also altered their hours to accommodate for the elderly and those most vulnerable. In order to provide a safe shopping experience, Save On Foods is open from the hours of 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. exclusively for elders, disabled residents, and those with weakened immunities. Their regular shopping hours currently run until 8 p.m.
Sparwood has also activated their Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), that will allow the district to facilitate communication with external agencies, provide a central contact point of information, and allow for the planning and collaboration of local, regional, and provincial efforts pertaining to COVID-19.
Sparwood has also recently developed an Emergency Preparedness Volunteer Registry, that will only be called upon if necessary. Developed out of precaution and advanced planning, the registry is currently seeking volunteers with skills in security, medical and first aid response, cooking with FoodSafe, cleaning services, and delivery services. For more information or to apply, visit Sparwood.ca/volunteering.
In terms of closures, the District of Sparwood’s main office has limited public access, and anyone with urgent matters is encouraged to call in. Also to be noted is that the committee of the whole meeting that was scheduled for March 31, will no longer be taking place.
When it comes to service closures, the Leisure Complex remains closed, as does Fire Hall #1, Fire Hall #2, and the Public Works Office. This being said, any correspondence can be facilitated over phone and email.
Also worth noting at this time is the closure of all playgrounds and play structures, including the skateboard park, ball diamonds, basketball courts, and tennis courts. While other outdoor spaces are still open, taking social distancing measures is encouraged when out of the home. For further updates, visit the district’s Facebook page or their website.