It is, says Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok, one of the most frustrating things he’s had to deal with in his time as an MLA.
He is referring to the unwillingness of people from out of the province to stay home.
Despite direction from the Premier and Chief Medical Office of both British Columbia and Alberta to not travel, more and more people are pouring into B.C. as the weather gets nicer.
“The Premiers and medical officers have said it’s not a time to travel to your trailer or cottage or second home,” Clovechok said. “As far as I’m concerned the people who continue to come in are saying, ‘screw you, we don’t care’.
“I have to ask, what part of this do you not get?”
Clovechok says that he personally knows of a woman with three kids with asthma who arrived in Radium to stay at her second home, and that this just frustrates him.
“We value our friends and neighbours, but explore BC later,” he said. “But no one is listening.”
Clovechok says he is also hearing of people starting to get confrontational with Albertans in grocery store parking lots.
“That’s not what we want,” he said.
He understands the frustration, he says, but please stay calm.
He says calls for closing the border are more complicated than one might think because first, it is not a provincial decision. It would take a federal order under the Emergency Measures Act.
“I just don’t see that happening yet,” he said, adding that it would also have to be enforced by the Canadian Armed Forces because small local police detachments don’t have the manpower.
But he is discouraged and frustrated by the number of people flowing into the riding.
“How do the health officers try to model COVID-19 when there are 10,000 or more extra people in the riding? When you add 10,000 people, you mathematically increase the risk of spreading it.
“I’m not being nice about it anymore,” he said. “What part of this don’t you get? I get that this is your second home, but this is our only home. Your Premier has clearly said stay home. You’re not listening. Shame on you.
“There are lots of people in this riding who are doing what they need to do, but COVID-19 is here. It is in every community, although thankfully there are no hospitalizations yet.
“If these people coming in were truly our friends, they’d say ‘we’ll see you when it’s over’.”
Clovechok says that while he supports the RDEK in their request to close travel into the province, and closure of private campgrounds, he does not support a ban on backcountry camping.
“I think it would be extreme,” he said. “A lot of local people get out into the backcountry to exercise and they camp where no one is around.”
But things may change. Clovechok knows that the coming warmer weather is not going to slow down the influx of people who refuse to listen to good advice.
“I don’t know what May will bring. We’re trying to get through April. I just want to impress on people, it’s not a B.C. versus Alberta issue. We are all Canadians. The Prime Minister has said, stay home.
“Please, please just stay home. This is up to each of us. People coming in don’t think it’s real here like it is in Calgary. It’s real here too.”
Clovechok did say that the annual mud bogs held each spring at Koocanusa have been shut down and it will be enforced.