Reopening will require a State of Patience

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One Direction is no longer just the ex-band my daughter sometimes blasts in the kitchen.

“SOP” is not just dangerously close to something we say when an unmasked shopper cuts in front of us within a two-metre radius.

And “Recovery,” apparently, is not just something that takes 14 days in the COVID-19 universe.

While Premier Doug Ford on Thursday announced that some facilities, notably parks, marinas and golf courses, can reopen beginning Saturday, the key takeaway from Tuesday’s city council discussion of Brockville’s “Recovery Plan” is that we’ll still be looking at a “new normal,” not what used to be normal, for some time.

City councillors earlier this week discussed a recovery plan that, among other things, could see the Brockville Railway Tunnel open by June 30, but with one-directional traffic.

That would be part of the SOP, which is neither a son-of-a-preacher, nor a “thing given or done as a concession of no great value,” as Google defines it, but rather a Standard Operating Procedure.


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In the very near future, there will have to be SOPs for pretty much anything the city chooses to reopen, even if Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday that we’re headed into “Phase One” of Ontario’s gradual reopening amid the state of emergency.

“We would be asking for people’s patience,” Mayor Jason Baker said Tuesday.

He was referring to the reality that, even when the province or the feds give the OK to reopen something, city hall won’t be able to turn on a dime. But the words will apply just as much to the things that do reopen.

Having to walk only one way through the Railway Tunnel may seem silly, but in this COVID world we all require a different SOP – a State Of Patience.

City officials were expected to issue a statement Friday on possible changes to the local plan, as they went over the details of the provincial measures announced Thursday.

As of late Thursday, the city template still called for no league play on the city’s athletic fields unless the province says otherwise, and the Brockville Arts Centre seemed likely to remain closed for the rest of the year.

(There is a separate column to be written, and I will get around to it, about what we can do to support our performing artists at a time when Brockville’s top venue can’t even open its doors.)

Among the local plan’s recommendations, SOPs will have to be developed for city parks and the Brock Trail, while at the city harbour, whatever SOP is developed would allow only for seasonal boaters this year, not transient boaters who might sail in from more COVID-intensive areas.


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Baker said transient slips would be freed up this year to accommodate demand from local users.

Elsewhere among city amenities, island camping will be suspended for the 2020 season, while city hall will have to make a decision in early August about what to do with the arenas, but it’s a safe bet any reopened arena would require one heck of a SOP – in both senses of the word.

The good news, for now at least, is that despite some political grumblings about the pace of reopening, and some demonstrations here and there, Ontario, like Canada as a whole, has been free of the kind of rampant yahoo extremism to be found immediately south of the border, where some consider it virtue to engage in behaviour that will ensure the disease spreads.

A State Of Patience has its limits, however, even among Canadians. Baker on Tuesday warned that some local residents have not been adhering to the necessary precautions.

The next few weeks and months will require a careful balance, between the need for citizens to keep that State Of Patience, and authorities to free things up as quickly as safely possible.

City hall reporter Ronald Zajac can be reached at