COLIN MACKAY: Finding the positives in a pandemic

Colin MacKay jpg, BI

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Even in the times of a global pandemic which has hurt the service industry considerably, and cost many people their jobs, there have been benefits globally and locally.

Since March 2020 air traffic has diminished greatly, allowing the air we breathe a chance to cleanse. Businesses are discovering using Zoom meetings or videoconferencing has cut down on travel costs. In essence, businesses are re-evaluating the need for buildings versus working from home.

Locally, updating the infrastructure of the city was made easier due to less traffic at the beginning of the pandemic. Golf courses have been packed all summer, once they opened up in May. Birding seems to have become more popular and people seem to be taking more pictures while hiking or simply enjoying a leisurely walk. Nobody is forgetting many small businesses have shut down and many people have lost their jobs, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

The four-lane expansion along Bell Blvd benefitted from having the casino closed. Traffic was substantially less enabling more work to be done during each day. The same could be said of the Dundas Street paving upgrade from Foster and Dufferin avenues. Adding cement pads to the bus stops has continued as well. Reduced volume has helped move these much-needed infrastructure projects along fairly quickly.

Many people while in isolation had to find something to do to keep themselves busy. Some have turned to birding. The local stores that sell seed are having a hard time keeping up with demand. Pressurized wood is at a premium as people upgrade their fences or decks. Or, in many cases, they have had the time to build new ones. Hardware stores are having a hard time keeping nails and screws in stock. Those that prefer to use a screen rather than a hammer have turned to new video games. ‘Call of Duty’ sales are up. Nintendo sales are up.

Since many gyms closed for months, people that wanted to be able to exercise have turned to simple equipment or have invested in bikes or treadmills for their garages or basements. Sales of these products is up noticeably. In fact, many people may choose to continue to work out at home even though gyms have reopened. It is cheaper but the socialization from going to the gym would be missing.

Golf courses locally have seen record number of rounds played at their respective courses. Finding a tee-time on the weekend can be a challenge. Record green fee sales for this year will not be out of the question. Clubs that have depended on tournaments for revenue have had to adjust. Tournaments have proven to be difficult to run with a 50-person limit for clubhouses. While some golfers miss the tournament experience, courses are open all the time for members or green-fee players to enjoy. Golf has experienced a rebirth because team sports have stopped. Golf is outdoors and safe as long as the club follows cleaning protocols.

Cooking at home had to increase since restaurants were closed. Thus, grocery stores have benefitted from added sales. Cleaning products have flown off the shelves. Baking goods were also hard to come by at times. People cooked at home more often. Many parents used this time to teach their children how to cook. It is debatable as to whether this has kept people healthier. Some have claimed to have lost weight and are in better shape because they have curtailed restaurant meals.

While the pandemic has hurt the service industry extensively there have been a few silver linings in the dark gloom and doom clouds of this global pandemic. Our air is cleaner and perhaps most importantly we stop and talk to each other more often.