Soon after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, municipalities across the country began setting up COVID-19 recovery task forces. The majority of these task forces had one main purpose: to help local businesses recover from the financial devastation of the pandemic. While economic recovery is vital to ensuring our communities can bounce back, few communities are prioritizing the importance of social recovery. Rates of loneliness, social isolation, burnout, anxiety, and stress are rising nationwide. It’s clear now more than ever before that our social well-being needs to be prioritized alongside our economic well-being.
The City of St. Albert has been a leader on this front. At the onset of the pandemic, St. Albert’s Council saw the need to be proactive in planning for their community’s recovery and established a COVID-19 Recovery Task Force. The Task Force brought together members of Council, along with representatives from across St. Albert including residents, business, government, and nonprofits.
The Task Force started off by completing an environmental scan and hosting community conversations. They then began identifying strategies and solutions that could help the City recover from the adverse economic and social impacts of the pandemic. The Task Force recognized that efforts to build community connection should be an essential part of any recovery effort.
They reflected on some “how might we” questions, including:
- How might we provide opportunities which increase inclusion and community connectedness within City of St. Albert, especially for the most vulnerable populations?
- How might we enhance the ability of residents, organizations and businesses to become more resilient and thrive?
Some of the strategies that were identified included:
- Expanding opportunities to increase neighbourhood and community connection
- Enabling smaller, spontaneous use activities that encourage residents to participate in year-round outdoor activities (such as pop-up firepits)
- Enabling volunteer-led projects that foster healthy, engaged communities (such as community gardens and block parties)
- Developing an internal marketing campaign, accessible to businesses and residents, that celebrates St. Albert’s unique attributes (such as a toolkit for residents)
St. Albert’s COVID-19 Recovery Task Force is a great example of how community connection and inclusion can be incorporated into a broader recovery agenda. As more communities begin to shift from response to recovery, it will be interesting to see how many communities include social well-being in their recovery plans.
What is your community doing to address the negative social impacts of the pandemic? Does your municipality have a COVID-19 recovery task force? Find out what they are focusing on and if you can get involved. Share St. Albert’s example with your elected officials as a source of inspiration for them to prioritize social well-being.
Take your learning further:
- Learn more about Albert’s COVID-19 Recovery Task Force
- Learn how St. Albert is building social capital: Investing in Social Capital Pays Off During a Crisis
- Find more resources and stories on the Cities Deepening Community website
- View the Cities Deepening Community Member Directory
- Learn how to become a Cities Deepening Community Member