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Vancouver Island mayors call for ferry restrictions ahead of May long weekend
BC Ferries vessel Spirit of Vancouver Island passes between Galiano Island and Mayne Island while traveling from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen, B.C., on Friday Aug. 26, 2011. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
VICTORIA -- Nearly two dozen Vancouver Island mayors and several other municipal leaders are calling on B.C.’s provincial health officer to prohibit all non-essential ferry travel over the May long weekend.
In a letter written by North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring, and endorsed by 23 mayors from Victoria, Nanaimo, Saanich, Comox, Powell River and elsewhere, the group calls on Dr. Bonnie Henry to enact a public health order to restrict long-weekend travel on BC Ferries.
Siebring cites “compelling anecdotal evidence” that despite official warnings not to travel over the Easter long weekend, residents of the B.C. mainland visited the islands and coastal communities for recreation.
“There were numerous instances over this past weekend of longer-than-normal lineups at retail outlets, liquor stores, and other establishments,” the mayor says.
The group behind the letter, which also includes the chairs of regional districts on Vancouver Island and the general manager of the Pacheedaht First Nation, is asking the province to enact ferry travel restrictions between Thursday and Tuesday over the May 18 holiday weekend.
“This is particularly important in our area because the demographics in our coastal communities generally skew quite heavily toward the older (and more vulnerable) end of the spectrum,” Siebring says.
“It is truly regrettable that we are forced to request these more stringent measures because a tiny minority of people simply refuse to heed your directives and our collective pleas for self-isolation.”
Copies of the letter sent to the provincial health officer were also sent to provincial and federal authorities, including B.C.’s premier, health minister, transportation minister, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.