In recognition of International Women's Day on March 9, the Airdrie City View is profiling four women who hold leadership positions, in a four-article series that focuses on how these women have helped their respective organizations navigate the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether it's in the realm of business, politics, charity or public education, these four women have exemplified local leadership and demonstrated their ability to make decisions in the face of looming uncertainty.
We are continuing our series with a profile on the City of Airdrie's Deputy Mayor, Tina Petrow. To read our profile on Lori McRitchie, the executive director of the Airdrie Food Bank, click here. To read our profile on Fiona Gilbert, the chair of the Rocky View Schools Board of Trustees, click here.
The job of a local politician is never easy. Throw a worldwide pandemic into the mix and the complexities only duplicate.
In Airdrie, Coun. Tina Petrow has been taking the situation in stride, doing her best to spread positivity throughout the community.
“It’s been challenging [and] filled with ups and downs,” she said. “It has been great to see the humanity that has come out of this. It has helped me get through this as well. Just watching our community come together and support each other has made it easier on us in leadership roles.”
Early on, as the pandemic first took hold of the province, Petrow – who served much of the pandemic as Airdrie's deputy mayor – did a number of things to help keep the community remain positive. In March of 2020, she dressed up as a pink unicorn and greeted residents around the city. On Christmas Eve, she asked residents to go on their balconies at 6 p.m.to sing carols together.
In devising these ideas, Petrow said she wanted to do whatever she could to help the community at a time everyone was physically separated.
“There were so many things going on out of our control,” she said. “Trying to just focus on what I could control and could impact was important for me. I was trying to make sure people got that brighter spot in their day.”
As the last year has thrown so many curve-balls, Petrow said it has always been important to her to use her platform as a local politician to do whatever good she can.
“It’s important always, but especially over the last year,” she said.
The debate over a mask bylaw in the summer of 2020, business support programs and a number of other measures tasked Airdrie City council with making some tough decisions throughout the pandemic Petrow said with any decision council makes, the goal is to collect as much information as possible and make the best decision, considering the circumstances.
“Through this time, I have learned everyone has so much resiliency and adaptability,” Petrow said. “That has helped me through this. I have always been a multi-tasker, but this is a bit above and beyond.”
As a self-proclaimed “people person,” Petrow said she has struggled with not being able to connect with residents or participate in the many local events that have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
“I haven’t been able to physically support people as much as I would have liked to, which has been difficult,” she said.
There have been many political decisions made during the pandemic, and Petrow said she is proud of the City and council’s initiatives to support local businesses and residents.
She praised the City’s staff for adapting quickly to the ever-evolving situation. She added that, moving forward, it’s important for the community to stick together as Airdrie continues to navigate the pandemic.
“That is what is going to propel us to get through this as fast as we can,” she said. “Reach out to your neighbours and make sure they are doing OK. Reach out to family members or people you see going by, give them a wave and ask how their day is going.”