Hello Mr. Goertzen,
I have two small requests as a stay at home mom affected by the recent school, preschool, park, church, and recreational facility closures in my home community of Steinbach.
Although I find it unfair that we are the only school division to be closed, and suspect that government motives behind this closure may have something to do with the voices of protest in our community that have recently made themselves known, I have been supportive and followed all of the rules presented to me. I am working with my son to keep him on top of his remote learning. I do not take an extreme stance on one side or the other on issues such as mask wearing, closures, and lock downs. I choose to believe that for the most part, the authorities in place are doing their best with the information that is given to them, so I have complied with all of the protective measures that have been taken.
Only recently have I begun to feel like my rights are being violated. As one of many parents who are relegated to small city yards with young children, I am wondering why the safe, outdoor, recreational opportunities in our community are shut down tight. Although a generous neighbour on our street has set up a skating rink in the park, it is closed and cannot be used. We also have a wonderful play structure in the same park which cannot be used. The toboggan hills have opened up, and we are thankful for that. We have gone sledding 4-5 times already.
I am no expert but I am aware that virus transmission outside, in open, cold air, under UV light, is extremely unlikely. Could we not simply limit the numbers of people using a facility (such as a play structure or skating rink) at one time? Contrary to what the media may portray, it has been my experience from living in the community of Steinbach that the vast majority of people are extremely cooperative with every restriction. I feel that I am being slapped on the wrist for something I have not done, under the assumption that I will be uncooperative.
Another rule that I feel is extreme is not allowing drive-in church services. I have been content (for the most part) to make do with the online services offered by my church. But I believe it should be acknowledged that churches play an enormous role in the mental health and well being of community members, and disallowing people from visiting their places of worship and supportive communities for such a length of time is bound to have severe consequences. I wonder how many cases of addiction, abuse, mental illness, divorce, and even suicide have been averted thanks to the wonderful work of churches in our community. It is time to acknowledge the vital role that they play and stop viewing churches as an adversary. Restrictions on churches need to be reasonably loosened, as soon as possible. If I can see a doctor, purchase medications, or even buy alcohol or cannabis to help medicate my psychological and emotional struggles, I should be permitted to attend my church for the same reasons. The disallowance of even orderly, drive-in church services feels to me like blatant disregard and disrespect for their precious role in many people’s lives, not to mention acts of service towards the community such as providing free food and clothing, cleaning up garbage, sharing facilities for school graduations, sharing parking lots for school pickups and drop offs (when bussing has not been provided), etc., etc., etc.
In summation, I am asking that outdoor recreational facilities be opened for limited use in a community affected by school closures, and for some evidence that the government values churches to the point of making them more accessible to the people who need them.
Thank you for your consideration.