B.C. police can’t fine or turn back people entering the province from Alberta, but with the COVID-19 situation there as bad as anywhere in Canada, opposition leader Shirley Bond says signs aren’t enough to deter recreational travellers at the border.
RCMP check stops went into effect Thursday at the highways leading out of Hope: Highway 1 in the Boston Bar area, Highway 3 near Manning Park, on the Coquihalla and also Highway 99 in the Lillooet area. B.C. residents are to be asked if their trip is recreational, and if it is, they are to be turned around or assessed a $575 fine for violating public health orders.
Those orders give a list of essential reasons for travel, including work, school, child care and moving, and are in place between the Lower Mainland, the B.C. Interior and Vancouver Island until May 25. The vast majority of new COVID-19 cases identified each day in the province are in the Lower Mainland, particularly in Surrey and the Fraser Valley.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable, and people have certainly been raising this with us, that if you are travelling from Alberta to B.C. that there may well be questions asked about why that travel is necessary,” Bond told reporters from Prince George Thursday. “It’s not about a border closure, but if you’re going to have check points in other parts of British Columbia, one would assume that there would likely be the opportunity to ask those questions at the B.C.-Alberta border as well.”
Bond said B.C. border communities have called for the measures, as they are struggling to keep businesses functional and aren’t receiving sufficient business support to deal with travel and indoor dining restrictions. She noted it’s been nearly two weeks since Premier John Horgan announced regional travel bans, with details coming out slowly.
“I think the premier raised expectations, and Alberta finds itself in a very difficult situation, a surge and very significant restrictions in place,” Bond said. “So I think it is natural for people to wonder why there isn’t at least a stop with questions being asked.”
Bond also questioned a regional system that allows people to travel from the Kootenays as far as Prince Rupert without restriction. Alberta residents coming to B.C. have been asked to stay in the Interior Health or Northern Health region where they have entered B.C., but there is no restriction on movement in that vast area.