Column: Staying close to home

Take advantage of opportunities nearby and support local tourism

While things are still busy on the political front, I wanted to write this column about experiencing what east central Alberta has to offer during a time when travel options are more limited than normal.

There is a lot to do locally and it has been interesting to hear from a growing number of folks who, after having their summer travel plans canceled due to COVID-19, found some of the best experiences imaginable, only an hour or two from home.

In all corners of the Battle River-Crowfoot constituency, there are beautiful provincial and regional parks, stunning landscapes, delicious cuisine, amazing history, eclectic shopping, and world class artisans.

One of the great honours of being your Member of Parliament is the ability to see so many of our communities and travel our many highways, both the ones that are out of the way and the ones more well known. Our region has a lot to offer.

I would challenge those who are looking for a summer getaway to open up a map, look on Google, stop by your town office or local chamber of commerce and see what opportunities exist.

Whether for an afternoon, a weekend, or longer, you will be amazed at all there is to do.

For example, my family has recently taken up “geocaching” where you use GPS to find hidden gems wherever you might be.

There are many activities and places to visit that provide us with the opportunity to get out of the house during the pandemic and allow us to have some fun and give us a break from the COVID-19 isolation, while still abiding by health regulations.

One of the further benefits of discovering what’s close to home is that in buying meals, visiting nearby destinations, shopping local or staying in local accommodations, you will be injecting much needed funds back into the economy and helping out businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We can enjoy ourselves while also helping our neighbours and communities move forward. The benefit of buying local during this time of crisis is integral to the health of our economy.

On that note, I encourage you to enjoy the sites of the constituency, discover what east central Alberta has to offer and to buy local.

While talking about summer travel, I would be amiss if I didn’t also take a moment to remind everyone to be safe during their summer fun.

Whether enjoying time on the water, pulling a camper, having a few drinks or exploring local nature, be sure to use commons sense and good judgment.

While the fight against COVID-19 continues, Canadians have shown an inspiring amount of resilience.

So remember — whether it’s the economic impacts, the challenges of physical distancing, wearing a mask, or dealing with health concerns, together we are stronger.

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