The Easter long weekend created an unfortunate rift between year-round and seasonal residents in many coastal communities – and the Sunshine Coast was definitely one of them.
A major reason for this was the ambiguous signals coming from B.C.’s top public health officials. Prior to the weekend, the health minister and provincial health officer were consistent and quite emphatic in urging British Columbians not to travel to their vacation homes at this stage of the pandemic. After the weekend, however, the same officials dismissed the concerns of rural communities, painting a picture of overall compliance based on a generalized comparison of BC Ferries passenger numbers. The implication was that some residents exaggerated the influx and were acting like surly children. They were advised to not assume they knew why other people were travelling and to “be patient and kind with each other.”
At no stage in the many postmortems of the weekend were the people who had travelled to their vacation properties explicitly rebuked – which is understandable perhaps, considering the prime minister himself travelled to the cottage for the weekend to spend Easter with his family.
The mixed messages left both sides feeling somehow chastised and vindicated at the same time. Since then, seasonal residents have written to this paper to remind us that they pay property taxes, use few services and spend lots of money when they’re here. Which is all true, and appreciated, but completely misses the point.
With another long weekend just a week away, some clear direction from the top was urgently needed. At his Wednesday press conference, Premier John Horgan provided exactly that.
Asked by Coast Reporter’s Sean Eckford if people should be travelling on the long weekend to their summer property, Premier Horgan answered loud and clear: no.
“If you don’t need to be travelling, you shouldn’t be travelling,” he said. If you have a second property, he added, “the best course of action would be to stay closer to your home until we get further into the summer… I hope people will exercise their good judgment and not travel to another community to enjoy the long weekend.”
Could it be any clearer? It’s not time yet for people to travel to the Sunshine Coast to enjoy their vacation property. And it is not being mean-spirited or unreasonably fearful to point this out.