Frank Bucholtz column

COLUMN: COVID-19 has created enormous damage to our way of life

Where we will be a year from now is still unknown

The breadth of changes brought to our lives by COVID-19 is long, incomplete and extremely difficult for most of us to accept.

No one wants to get COVID-19, and despite occasional protests and snarky comments online, the vast majority of people accept that it is real.

They have encountered it firsthand too often. Most reluctantly accept the significant restrictions on their lives, but in the 15th straight month of measures to counter the virus, it is obvious that the damage to our way of life has been enormous.

Spring usually marks the beginning of events and outdoor activities, due to longer days and warmer weather.

Not this year.

This spring is a repeat of last year. The huge Vaisakhi Day parade, Surrey’s biggest gathering, was set for April 24 and was cancelled for the second year. The Cloverdale Rodeo has also been cancelled for the second year.

This year, there are stricter travel restrictions.

Many people like to go camping on the Victoria Day long weekend. They can’t do so, except within the Fraser/Vancouver Coastal health region – and not in the eastern reaches of FHA, where there actually are spaces.

Officials who claim it is possible to do such activities locally obviously have never tried to get camping space.

Elected and health officials from one of the few other areas where there is space, the Sea-to-Sky corridor, are begging people to stay away.

Restaurant dining, family gatherings, weddings, birthday parties and even funerals are either banned completely or subject to severe restrictions.

Minor sports games are not allowed.

No gatherings of community groups, churches, temples, mosques or even extended families are permitted.

Major regional events such as the PNE and the fireworks celebration are being cancelled. There are no longer spontaneous gatherings of neighbours at 7 p.m. with music and cheering for health workers – nobody feels like cheering any more.

The vaccine rollout is slow and incomplete.

Canada is the only country where second doses are being delayed for up to four months. Whether this will ward off some of the variants is unknown.

While supplies of vaccines are expected to ramp up this month, as of April 30, only 90,296 B.C. residents had received a second dose.

All of these gloomy factors have led to a vast increase in overdose deaths, a spiral in mental health challenges and a general sense of unease and discontent.

Stories such as that of Reid Hance, an otherwise-healthy 46-year-old man who died at his Delta home of COVID-19 on April 14, reinforce the seriousness of the situation but are also deeply disturbing.

One of the most significant but generally unremarked outcomes of COVID-19 is an actual decline in school enrolment in Surrey – a district which has been constantly growing since the 1940s.

This is due to an almost complete halt of immigration and virtually no growth in the city. It has also led to the school district posting a $40 million deficit.

Where will we be a year from now?

No one knows.

Hopefully it will be better in May, 2022, but even saying so is being profoundly, and perhaps naively, optimistic.

Frank Bucholtzwrites twice a month for Peace Arch News and at


Just Posted

People were lined up around the fields at a drop-in vaccine clinic at Newton Athletic Park on Tuesday (April 27, 2021), which is one of the high-transmission neighbourhoods that are being given vaccine priority. This clinic was one of at least three to open in the city on Tuesday. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey’s weekly cases continue to drop, push for 80% vaccination rate citywide

BCCDC reports 263 cases for Surrey the week of May 30 to June 5

Fleetwood Park Secondary School’s 2021 commencement ceremonies were held over the course of two days, June 10 and 11. Grads went through a small, distanced ceremony in groups of four, with up to four members of the grad’s household. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey’s 2021 grads find creative ways to celebrate in another year of COVID-19

This year’s Grade 12 students were unable to have any large-scale events

Friends of Bear Creek Park held a ‘yellow-ribbon event’ on Saturday (June 12, 2021), with protesters at 84th Avenue and King George Boulevard and 84th Avenue and 140th Street. People were asked to tie a yellow ribbon in their yard “to celebrate and to show support for our trees in Bear Creek Park.” (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Protesters hold ‘yellow-ribbon’ event at Surrey’s Bear Creek Park

People asked to tie a yellow ribbon in their yard to ‘show support for our trees’

All nine White Rock Renegades softball teams are set to take part in the Canadian Pride and Power Tournament, scheduled for July 1-4. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock Renegades set to host multi-team Pride and Power softball tournament

‘There’s going to be a lot of excitement in the park,’ said Greg Timm

The Lower Mainland Green Team and students from Earl Marriott Secondary remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park. (Contributed photo)
Green Team returns to White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park to monitor previous work

Environmental volunteers, South Surrey students remove invasive species

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read