February 21st, 2024

Honouring those who were lost: City looking into COVID projects

By COLLIN GALLANT on July 28, 2022.

Shoppers don masks before entering a business on Third Street in downtown Medicine Hat. -- News photo collin Gallant


The City of Medicine Hat should apply for three major grants to pursue projects to commemorate the COVID-19 pandemic and also plant a tree, according to a recommendation from council’s Community Vibrancy Board.

That advisory board reported to the public services committee in the spring that they were evaluating the impact of the pandemic on the city and its residents, and on Monday a report was returned to committee.

It states city staff should task the Esplanade with creating a time capsule related to the epidemic, begin compiling recordings, video, text and physical artifacts from the period, and also create a major photographic installation for display.

“We’re in a fortunate position to make use of (grant) funding and… follow through on this in a very public way,” said Leah Prestayko, the director the city’s community development department.

“There’s a number of ideas here.”

A community portrait project would see 120 large black and white photographs displayed on the outside wall of the Esplanade, potentially in September.

That, a time capsule, and additions to the archives collection, would be eligible for a total of $62,500 combined in grants from the federal government. A new tree planted in the city’s memorial arboratorium would cost about $1,200.

“(The tree) honours those who we have lost,” said chair, Coun. Ramona Robins. “There are two things here. There are those who passed away due to COVID; we want to make sure they are honoured and remembered. But there are also those who worked through, grocery store workers, health-care and first responders, who had to be out in the community when there was so much uncertainty.

“The portrait project is a wonderful idea… that can encompass so many people who made sacrifices.”

Major projects would be funded by grant applications available from Canadian Heritage ministry.

A time capsule would include material and artifacts from the 2020-to present period, while the Esplanade Archives would make a special project of collecting and recording stories about life during the pandemic to create an exhibit video, audio, photographs and text.

Potential projects that city staff are not recommending include installing a bench in each quadrant of the city, dedicating an existing garden plot, or commissioning mural at city expense or a new public art project that could also receive grant funding.

City council will make a final decision.

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