Many Vancouver Islanders get a little uncomfortable when they spot a white licence plate with red letters. That means a stranger in our midst, an Albertan. Not without cause Alberta has become associated in the minds of locals with bullying and threats and now there's the Covid-19 factor.
Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne says her seaside British Columbia community is nervous about an onslaught of sand and surf seekers this long weekend, but is hoping any visitors think twice and turn around once they hit an information checkpoint run by RCMP and Parks Canada outside of town.
This ask-not-demand approach worked well over Easter, where dozens of cars a day were informed the grave risk an introduction of COVID-19 could bring to the one-ventilator community and volunteered to drive east back to their homes or other parts of Vancouver Island, she said.
"It wasn’t about defiance, they just hadn’t really thought about their impact on other people ... one group of people [told Mounties] ‘we’re just bored at home and went for a drive,’” says Ms. Osborne, who closed her 10-room lodge two months ago but has kept her botanical garden open for locals wanting respite from the stress of pandemic life.
This long weekend is the unofficial start to summer, but mayors of tourist hotspots across B.C. are worried people buoyed by reports of fewer new confirmed cases will venture further afield and introduce an outbreak into their communities. And different rules between provinces are magnifying the tension in the southeastern part of the B.C., where the economy depends on an influx of tourists and owners of vacation homes from Alberta.Islanders have worked hard and given up much to get Covid infection rates remarkably low. That wasn't done so that outsiders would see the island as a safe place to vacation. There are all sorts of connotations to that, some good, some not.