The Shuswap has an abundant supply of quality arable land with the potential to feed us all and still provide product for export. (File photo)

Column: New strategies needed for recovery from pandemic

Shuswap Passion by Jim Cooperman

By Jim Cooperman


The pandemic has been a massive shock to humanity and, as a result, there may never be a return to the same lifestyle we have always deemed to be normal.

In fact, the disease has actually exposed all the flaws in our society and thus, it could become a catalyst for the changes needed to improve our lives.

While most of the key decisions are made in Ottawa and Victoria, there are ways that regions, like the Shuswap, can change for the better.

The goal posts are shifting. For too long the mantra of continuous growth has been the driving force in the economy, as if we lived on an infinite planet where more of everything could continue forever.

As society slowly emerges into a post-COVID world, the new buzzword is resilience, which communities now desire as they grapple with all the threats to our way of life that have been exposed by the pandemic.

First and foremost are the risks to our food supply, since most of it is either imported from the U.S. and Mexico, or is dependent on foreign temporary farm workers. Fortunately, the Shuswap has an abundant supply of quality arable land, which has the potential to feed all of us with ample more for export.

However, there are many obstacles that need to be addressed before sustainable agriculture can become a solution. Much of our farmland is underutilized and it is too expensive for young people to purchase land. Solutions could include lease-to-purchase opportunities, cooperatives and revising the rules to allow for large farms to be subdivided into smaller acreages that would be farmed more intensively.

In addition to providing more opportunities for growing food, we need to revise our diets to include more of the types of food we can grow and store locally. A classic example is the standard head of lettuce, which is a basic staple for most families. While there is no shortage of greens during the growing season, throughout the winter fresh greens can only be grown here under lights. Cabbage is the ideal replacement in the winter, as it stores well under refrigeration and it is more nutritious and flavourful.

In addition to food, the Shuswap also grows fabulous trees. As the forest industry continues to weaken due to a combination of a declining timber supply and job-killing mechanization, the need for seedlings increases. Already, there are three successful tree nurseries and there is no doubt that more are needed, given the demand due to forest fires, pests and logging.

Tourism, which has long been a key part of the Shuswap economy, is taking a hit from the pandemic and its recovery may be hampered for a few years until there are fewer risks from travel and more people can afford to enjoy a vacation again. A mitigation strategy could be pursued that would help to expand the tourism season by promoting Shuswap’s fabulous hiking and biking trails, as well as by building more trails, including the rail trail.

Read more: Column: In search of the Shuswap’s most significant trees

Read more: Column: Adams River salmon run collapse a man-made crisis

With so many people now working from home, the nature of work will likely change for the better once we are free from the pandemic. It is possible that many people will want to exit from the cities to live in rural communities, where they can enjoy a healthier lifestyle, more recreational opportunities and yet still be able to work remotely via the internet.

Many experts are calling for a green recovery that focuses on investments in technologies and infrastructure that help reduce carbon emissions. Ecosystem restoration is part of the federal plan and it is possible that funding could be secured to restore more of the Salmon River riparian zones.

Achieving greater resilience would include improving our community’s ability to cope with the stress from climate change and economic malaise, as well as from infectious diseases. Economic and social planning that encourages greater self-sufficiency, better food security, more affordable housing and a higher level of social cohesiveness would help to ensure that the Shuswap remains one of the best places in the world to live.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Shuswap Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Salmon Arm man reported missing by RCMP has been found unharmed

Ken Derkach apologizes for having caused anyone concern

Preparations for flooding in the Shuswap accelerate

A sandbagging machine and a crew to run it have been set up in Silver Creek.

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan, Shuswap

Environment Canada is forecasting strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy downpours in parts of the Interior

From mouldy attics to giant wasp nests, Shuswap home inspector shares surprising finds

Salmon Arm’s Brad Campbell assembling photo gallery of disturbing discoveries

WorkSafe BC conducted 70 inspections in the Okanagan amid B.C.’s reopening plan

WorkSafe BC has conducted 100 inspections at restaurants across the province since May 19

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

District offers safety tips after cougar spotted near Lake Country school

The animal was seen on a walking trail near Peter Greer Elementary Saturday morning

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Similkameen winery co-owned by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C.’s provincial health officer is part of the original ownership group of Clos du Soleil in Keremeos

Emergency crews rush youth to hospital after quadding accident in West Kelowna

West Kelowna Fire Rescue’s new off-road vehicle was used in the rescue

Shuswap History in Pictures: Floodwater food run

A young boy rows through Sicamous’ streets during the 1972 flood.

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

Most Read