Rob: A tale of two communities and the way that they’re responding to COVID-19 and monitoring and controlling compliance. It’s really interesting to see the direction Banff is going. I understand they’ve installed some cameras in certain areas to monitor COVID-19 public health compliance right now.

Tanya: Surveillance cameras have been set up at the Banff Recreation Grounds. I’ve seen at least one social media post of a person receiving a ticket for not social distancing. Banff’s approach to this and Canmore’s, it’s two different communities, and so there’s two different realities at play. Banff has incredibly low rates of confirmed cases of COVID. Right now, there were four total,  and all but one had recovered . So how do you keep that low? I can see Banff acting on this with a lot of things that people may not necessarily agree with.

Rob: I would argue as well that Canmore’s cases are also relatively low and they’re not taking quite as stringent measures when it comes to enforcing public safety. I think some people think that Canmore more should be more like Banff and be really cracking the whip and handing out a lot of fines and doing a lot of monitoring while others would be saying, well, hold on, we have to respect some civil liberties here. How do you find that balance between respecting people’s privacy and freedoms and also these public health measures? It’s really interesting how both of our communities are taking different approaches and I don’t really think there’s a right or a wrong answer here.

Tanya: These are temporary measures. For example, the cameras set up at the Rec Grounds in Banff, they will be, when this is over, used to replace older traffic cameras. But what temporary changes are we okay with? Restricting the movement of people in and out of your community. Surveillance in public spaces. These are the measures that Banff is okay with. Canmore has gone a lot harder on messaging, and dealing with the fact that a lot of what people are experiencing is fear and anxiety, and that’s coming into play into how they’re reacting to things, and it’s causing conflict. Canmore’s messaging has been “don’t assume you know who people are and to treat people with kindness.” And our messaging towards Calgary has been “stay home.” It’s hard because we haven’t really seen a really strong messaging from the provincial government to keep people away from Canmore.

Rob: I think there seems to be a misconception that this is all on the mayor. That’s not how it works. The mayors don’t have like a magic mayor wand that they wave around and make public decrees about how things are going to operate here. Both of our communities are responding to both provincial public health recommendations from the experts there as well as local public health experts and committees. I find it interesting that they’re both reaching different conclusions.

Filed under: Banff, Canmore, covid-19, Mountain Insider