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One Year Later: Cambridge Reflects On The Pandemic

'We've come a long way despite the lockdown'

Published 03/18/2021 | By Cambridge Now Local News

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One Year Later...Where has the time gone?

One Year Later: Cambridge Reflects

Cambridge, Ontario – A year ago, today, the City of Cambridge officially closed City Hall and all municipal facilities and implemented a virtual and essential workforce to maintain city services, and to keep residents informed.

“We thought we would be back to our regular routines in three weeks,” said City Manager David Calder. “Three weeks turned into months and now, somehow, a year has passed. We have learned how to serve our community under a “new normal” of social distancing, virtual meetings, limited social gatherings, and public health restrictions. “

This year has been a true testament to the flexibility and adaptability of staff, Council and the community, he added. The City of Cambridge, in partnership with the Region of Waterloo Public Health and area municipalities, have worked together to be consistent in pandemic response and the delivery of services.

“We have learned and are still learning a great deal from being forced to continually “pivot” during an evolving pandemic. We have had to rethink and redesign our services and programs under changing constraints and quick timeframes. In many cases, we have gained new insights and valuable learnings into the way that we work. We thank residents for your feedback and support as we continue to work towards less complicated and worrying days ahead.”

How we adapted our services

Engagement and meetings

  • Transitioned to virtual Council meetings and virtual staff townhalls
  • Held numerous online engagement opportunities on various infrastructure projects and on the updated strategic plan
  • Hosted a virtual State of the City address
  • Held a by-election with curbside options for voters and safety protocols in place.


  • Held virtual community celebrations, such as the Celebration for the Arts and Canada Day, reaching up to five times the number of people.
  • Launched a COVID-friendly version of our flagship Christmas in Cambridge festival with an online market and Winter Illumination light displays throughout the community.


  • Offered #RecFromHome programs and modified summer camps and programs.
  • Held more than 1,340 phone and online sessions to connect with older adults and made over 8,775 reassurance and wellness calls to our seniors.
  • Encouraged the community to stay active outdoors with our Winter City Cambridge campaign and brightened spirits with the Old Post Office digital light show and various contests
  • Expanded our bylaw enforcement team to ensure education and safety under the emergency orders.
  • As part of the regional pandemic response plan, municipal and community partners formed a Community Support Control Group to support our vulnerable population.
  • Launched Welcome Cambridge - a virtual Information Fair and Service Map for newcomers in Cambridge
  • Created an archives project to document the pandemic experience from the Cambridge perspective.


  • Supported our local venders and farmers by working together on a safe reopening plan for the Farmers Market under public health measures, as well as offering an online pre-sale platform and curbside pickup. Currently, the market serves 600-1000 people per week under safe conditions.
  • Encouraged residents to support local businesses and restaurants through our online map and #orderfromhome campaigns.
  • Cambridge City Council approved an Economic Response Plan as well as a cost containment plan for the City to help manage costs and offset lost revenue.
  • Introduced an expedited process for local businesses to expand patios and outdoor space.
  • Participates in outreach and partnerships initiatives to support local businesses.

Throughout the evolution of the pandemic, our essential frontline staff continue to provide municipal services to our residents, and staff continue to make significant progress on key projects, such as the Recreation Complex, the Fountain Street soccer field, renovations on Historic City Hall, as well as significant road and infrastructure work. Cambridge Fire has remained steadfast in its commitment to protect our community and respond to emergencies.

One Year Later: Community Thank You from Mayor McGarry

One Year Later: Economic Response Plan

Pandemic Response Timeline

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