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Silver linings—and density’s drawbacks

Leslie Campbell


April 11, 2020

IN BC, ACCORDING TO A UBC PROFESSOR specializing in disease modelling and projection, quoted on the CBC website: “We’re showing very strong signs the situation is under control, so to speak.” Mohsen Sadatsafavi said BC could be reaching a “maintenance phase” of the COVID-19 response. 

Still, that appears to mean only that we should continue as is with the restrictions and “prepare for when certain activities can be allowed again.”

More stories are coming out about the silver linings of the pandemic—like cleaner air, more blessed quiet—except for bird song—and a resurgence of wildlife. The images of Delhi’s skies before and after shut-downs are a dramatic illustration of what, in the normal, pre-pandemic course of events, we have been doing to our planet.

Will such benefits, along with some of the more obvious drawbacks of dense urban development, influence the future shape of our cities? In New York, the densest city in the US, the rush on grocery stores early in the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, with people packed “shoulder to shoulder,” likely fuelled the spread of the virus. A Washington Post story notes, “When asked whether New York’s tightly packed quarters contributed to the high number of cases, Demetre Daskalakis, deputy commissioner for the Division of Disease Control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said simply, 'You’ve hit on the main thing.’”

How will concerns about contagion play out in Victoria’s future? Will people be less keen on living in small Downtown condos?

Most people I talk with are surprised how fast the days pass. Many don’t feel very productive even if they are working, but also don’t seem unhappy. They are finding creative tasks and keeping in touch with loved ones and colleagues through all the technology at our fingertips. It’s a change, and it seems we are mostly able to adapt well. And everyone I speak with feels grateful—for being Canadian, for Dr. Henry’s kind, calm, wise presence, for living in such a beautiful part of the world, and being (fingers crossed) healthy.



Pacific tree frog


This morning’s walk was graced with a Pacific tree frog jumping onto a fern right in front of me, where he sat for a minute or so listening to my compliments. I also watched merganzers preening, buffleheads and goldeneyes bobbing about in a small cove. The latter two will be gone soon to their summer habitats.

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