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Canadian Coast Guard to discourage U.S. boaters from visiting Vancouver Island during COVID-19
VICTORIA -- Heading out on the ocean might seem like the perfect way to physically distance and get some fresh air, but as warmer weather nears, another concern is emerging.
Regional superintendent for the Canadian Coast Guard Susan Pickrell says the agency is working on a plan to prevent visits from American boaters.
“Right now, we’d like to think our friends to the south of us will be staying at home and won’t be coming up to Canada, especially when we have a closed border,” says Pickrell.
The coast guard says it has already seen an increase in search and rescue calls compared to last year.
“It puts a real strain on our resources and mainly our supply of personal protective equipment,” says Pickrell.
On Friday, the coast guard's assistant commissioner wrote a letter to mariners asking them to think twice about boating during the coronavirus outbreak.
“We are navigating uncharted waters right now, and it is up to all of us to do our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Roger Girouard.
“It’s time to take those principles to heart, keeping an eye to being on the water without impacting others.”
One Sidney marina sees a large number of American boaters for vessel repairs.
“We have an international reputation, we have 19 different businesses that operate out of this marina,” says Canoe Cove general manager Don Prittie.
“There are lots of non-resident customers that come and spend their money in Canada.”
Canoe Cove has been deemed an essential service as it is a port for smaller Gulf Islands. There is also a marine ambulance based there.
Prittie says his biggest concern is people not taking physical distancing seriously when the long weekends approach.
“Don’t be foolish and have a big party,” he says.
The coast guard says it is working with partners to come up with a plan to discourage boaters from making non-essential trips, including American boaters who should not be travelling for pleasure purposes.