The caller identified herself as a concerned resident of Pender Harbour. “It’s very concerning these days,” she said. “We can notice quite a large influx of boats coming into the harbour with younger partygoers – kind of like party time. We don’t want them here… Stay away from Pender Harbour, and Gibsons too.”
The caller’s sentiments were widespread this week. From Tofino to Galiano Island to Whistler to the Sunshine Coast, word went out to tourists, cottagers and anyone else who had a mind to visit: please stay away.
“This statement is not made lightly,” Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa said in a joint release with qathet board chair Patrick Brabazon and Tla’amin hegus Clint Williams asking visitors to postpone trips to the region. “Our isolated and remote community has extremely limited health care resources. Our businesses and local services are reducing to minimal levels. We’re all working together on our community’s health and safety, and we need your help.”
Islands Trust Council sent out the same message on behalf of its members, including islands in Howe Sound. Chair Peter Luckham noted that ferry-dependent communities are especially vulnerable and most Gulf Islands have an aged demographic and limited or no medical services. “Now is not the time to be visiting the islands,” he said.
Ferry vulnerability notwithstanding, Coasters who lobbied not long ago for a bridge or highway link to the Lower Mainland might have been having second thoughts last weekend if they heard about the crowds flooding into the Sea to Sky region. The raw numbers and careless behaviour of some prompted a heartfelt appeal by Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott. “We’re all passionate about exploring B.C.,” she said, “but now is not the time to travel.”
It’s hard to blame city folk for wanting to escape the urban jungle to spend a few days or even hours in a place where the air is clean and the population density low. We would probably feel the same way. But, cruel as it may sound, now is not the time.