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Hands up. How many of us are longing to return to “normal” as soon as we have a vaccine?
While our COVID-19 trials will one day be history, returning to “normal” means continued climate disruption, species extinction, growing inequalities, high levels of pollution, health risks and the possibility of new disease outbreaks. That’s not a very attractive “normal” to return to.
Turns out that not everyone is a loser in these tough times.
The world’s millionaires (36 million of them) are expected to do the best in the coming years, and their numbers are expected to grow to 44 million by 2022.The wealthiest 1 percent of the world’s population now owns more than half of the world’s wealth, according to a new report from Credit Suisse.
When that one per cent is largely behind the push to get the economy rolling — no matter the human cost — then we know change is necessary.
Governments at all levels are working on how best to tackle the problems that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Since more than 80% of Canadians live in urban areas, we know that the way towards a fairer, cleaner, greener, de-carbonized economy will begin with our cities, undoing decades of bad habits that have compromised our health, access to housing, and the quality of our air and water.
A month ago, more than 50 prominent Orillians committed to creating a city that:
- travels far fewer kilometres in gas- and diesel-fueled vehicles, and many more by foot, bicycle and public transit,
- boasts many more electric vehicles and charging stations,
- substantially expands renewable energy sources,
- builds and retrofits energy-efficient, low-carbon houses and other buildings that are much, much better at separating heat from cold,
- ensures everyone is permanently housed, local food production is increased, and jobs are created,
- ensures access to clean water and clean air for all,
- plants more trees and pollinator gardens, and grows food in our own or community gardens,
- protects our lakes from damaging storm-water run-off,
- phases out single-use plastic and reduces food waste,
- and more.
The pandemic has thrown municipal governments into a period of unprecedented financial uncertainty and huge budget shortfalls. New sources of revenue will be necessary.
Municipalities like Orillia have it within their power to reassess priorities and reallocate resources away from approaches that are not viable over the long-term toward sustainable, equitable, cost-efficient ones.
As miserable as the pandemic has been, especially for the most vulnerable among us, it has also shown us what is possible.
We know now that we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. We have seen that caring for and about each other will get us through tough times. We know that every Orillia citizen can make a positive contribution to our city’s long-term health and well-being.
In truth, our reponses to the pandemic have shown us the way forward in the “new normal’ to come.