Over here, everybody!

Jeff Burgar
For the Lakeside Leader

Do you feel sorry for Jasper? The town, not Jasper the Bear! Both Jasper and Banff are tourist towns. Both are hard-hit by our provincial lockdowns. Hotels and restaurants are closed. Souvenir shops have no customers. Streets and local parks and sidewalks are all deserted. All very depressing, say news reports.

Of course, it’s just as depressing here in northern Alberta. Summer festivals, rodeos, powwows, jamborees, concerts and hoedowns, honey festivals, tractors pulls and more are all canceled. Most won’t come back this summer, given the extensive lead time needed to book all the talent needed to put on a show

Even as we open casinos and restaurants, sort of anyway, the whole physical distancing thing will dampen usual enthusiasm. Slinging a few bucks in a VLT or enjoying an after-work beverage with the co-workers won’t be quite the same.

By the time winter rolls around, we might even be in the dreaded ‘second wave’ of COVID-19. This happens when people come out of isolation and catch the disease. Socializing and mixing of people means more infections. People get sick. And right after that, given the track record of previous pandemic diseases, people die.

In fact, this happened during the notable Spanish Flu, 100 years ago. The ‘second wave’ of that pandemic was actually worse than the first wave.

There are already warnings things will get worse – much worse – before we build some kind of ‘herd immunity.’

Others say, taking an opposite position, COVID-19 is already burning itself out. Yes, there might be hot spots popping up around the world, but basically, this other field of ‘experts’ says there are reasons for that.

In this whole schmozzle of who is right and who is wrong, it seems as if every day we wake up to new facts, new information and many biased reports.

For example, the hugely respected medical magazine Lancet reported hydroxy, the anti-malaria drug used for over 50 years, is in fact dangerous. Soon enough, that was backpedaled as a story full of horse manure.

Meanwhile, here we are, supposed to feel sorry for Alberta tourist towns. Mountain tourist towns. Their industry, nurtured and coddled over the years, is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions. Kananaskis, Canmore, Glacier Icefield, Lake Louise.

As usual, our own regional highlights are ignored. What about Cold Lake? 12-Foot Davis, MacKenzie and Alaska Highways. Lesser Slave Lake. Swan Hills. Our First Nations cultural events. Our industries. Dinosaurs. Fishing summer and winter. Camping. And much more.

We do tend to downplay our strengths, bombarded as we are by constant media refrains about the Rockies. Now it’s sad stories about mountain towns. All in all, we here in northern Alberta, constantly play second fiddle. As impressive as those rocks might be, we have our own strengths. Let’s pay attention to them.

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