Vermilion Mayor, Caroline McAuley, gave a recent update on the Town’s response to COVID-19. What would you like to say to frontline workers in Vermilion? “Our community is grateful to all those frontline workers who continue to bring goods and services, provide protection, health services and safety, and keep our community running. There are a number of essential businesses that remained open to serve our public and continue to provide necessary services while ensuring they are protecting themselves and their families. Their commitment is undeniable and we thank them for continuing to serve,” said Mayor McAuley. What recommendations would you give to residents to prevent COVID-19? “Even though Vermilion has not had any diagnosed cases, we must remain vigilant and continue to practice good public health habits during this time. Daily Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health provides the most relevant information and I advise our residents to follow her recommendations as they come out,” said McAuley. What actions has the Town taken in response to COVID-19, and how well prepared do you feel the Town of Vermilion is? “I believe the Town has taken good measures to be as prepared as possible. The CAO and I have weekly calls with AHS to stay on top of any new developments. Prior to any provincial directives, we proactively closed our recreation facilities as well as restricted all visitors to the Vermilion Valley Lodge facility, so that our public would be kept as safe as possible. We work closely with AHS and have ensured that members of our Town staff are kept safe and that services to the community will continue,” said McAuley. How does Alberta’s decision to include greenhouses, farmers markets, etc. in essential services affect area businesses and residents? “I am happy with the government’s decision to include greenhouses, and farmer’s markets as essential services. By purchasing locally grown or produced foods/plants we continue to support an important sector of our economy. In addition, growing local food or flowers is good for our mental health, and teaching us to be better connected to the land,” said McAuley. What updates did you receive in your weekly conference with the Premier? “Weekly I have an opportunity to raise questions or concerns on behalf of our community to the Premier and hear what strategies other communities are using during this time. It is such an unprecedented time that we need all our ideas at the table to help determine the best ways out of this pandemic and to support our community to recovery,” said McAuley. What have been your biggest challenges about living/working in recent weeks? “This pandemic has certainly provided us with many challenges from supporting our most vulnerable residents to sustaining our business sector where possible. Probably the biggest challenge for all of us has been the mental impact as we are restricted from gathering with family and friends. Our community has become very creative in finding ways to connect and celebrate and I am grateful we can still find ways to do this,” said McAuley. What are the benefits the council meetings being live streamed; and will that practice continue beyond COVID-19? “We had the chance to live stream our council meeting on April 7, which went well. We will continue to improve this experience for those people who are watching this live stream. Our plan is to continue to live stream our meetings which will allow residents to attend our meetings virtually from their home,” said McAuley. Where should people go to view the virtual council meetings? “You can find the link on our web page (vermilion.ca) to attend the meetings however these meetings are live and are not archived at this time,” said McAuley. Overall in the coming months what hope and encouragement can you offer Vermilion residents? “Over our 114 year history, Vermilion has experienced and thrived through many challenges including the Spanish flu of 1918, the 1918 fire destruction of our downtown, the depression and severe droughts and dismal harvests to name a few. We are a strong and resilient community. During this challenging time we need to continue to support each other and our community and to face each day with hope and strength. I am confident we will get through this together and we will be a stronger community on the other side of this pandemic,” said Mayor McAuley.