“We get it,” the District of Lake Country told the community on Wednesday — another day under provincial health restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“People are tired of having to stay home, wear masks, stay physically distanced from others, wash their hands a lot, go through processes online that they used to do in person; and are anxious about vaccines,” the district said on Facebook April 28. “That’s why it is more important than ever to be patient and be kind to your neighbours, fellow residents and workers that serve you in our community.”
Lake Country staff have been busier than ever during the pandemic period. The currently shorthanded team at municipal hall has been fielding an “unexpectedly large volume” of requests for permits and property information, leading to wait times that exceed the district’s usual standards.
Not all of those requests have been submitted graciously — and it’s only leading to more delays.
“Using abusive language (on the phone, in person, on social media) can have a direct and harmful impact on the people who are doing their best to help you,” the district said.
Lake Country communications officer Karen Miller said there appears to be a growing interest among property owners to build or develop their properties during the pandemic, which has led to more property-related requests to municipal staff than usual. On top of that, a white-hot real estate market is leading to more information requests from realtors.
“We’re managing more permit inquiries, applications and other kinds of inquiries that take staff time,” Miller said.
“I think anyone in any business is probably experiencing something similar,” she added, taking campground operators as an example, who are busy booking reservations like never before. “They’re just managing hundreds more inquiries per day than they usually get.”
Residents impatient with the process at municipal hall have only made that process slower in some cases.
“Sometimes residents just start calling everybody they ever knew at municipal hall, and then you get six different people working on something for you,” Miller said.
Abusive comments directed at staff don’t help to speed up the flow of services — and, especially in a small community like Lake Country, they don’t help morale, either.
“Because a great majority of staff actually live here in the community, when they see things on social media too it can be really demoralizing to them,” Miller said.
As the district continues to forgo its ‘normal’ operations to account for public health guidance on controlling the spread of COVID-19, Miller says patience will help staff perform their jobs with accuracy.
“We ask for your patience, kindness and understanding given that applications are processed manually, requiring staff time to address every request. Every request will be responded to.”