Should B.C. temporarily close its border with Alberta? Some politicians think so
VANCOUVER -- It may not be the most popular choice, but politicians who represent B.C.’s East Kootenay Regional District are unanimous: They want the border with Alberta closed, at least for now.
“We don’t like to do it, but we have to do it, “ said district board chair Rob Gay.
Traditionally, thousands of Albertans flock to small communities like Kimberley, Fernie and Sparwood on the Easter long weekend. They camp, hike and ski. But authorities are concerned they might also bring COVID-19 with them.
“We have limited resources in our hospitals,” Gay reasoned. “We also have healthcare workers in the community we’re trying to keep safe.”
The district sent a letter to B.C.'s provincial health officer asking for support. Titled "Request for Additional Measures to Limit Travel and Gathering," it also asks for help in closing private campgrounds and the backcountry to overnight camping.
“There is an urgent concern that physical-distancing measures will be difficult to maintain,” it reads in part. “This will result in an increased risk to both our residents and those who need to travel through the area.”
But Dr. Bonnie Henry indicated Tuesday afternoon she doesn’t think the closure is necessary.
“The pandemic that we’re experiencing is very similar to what’s happening in Alberta,” she said at her daily briefing.
The letter only calls for a ban on non-essential travel, and the board is well-aware Albertans are a vital part of their local economy.
“We want to limit travel and it’s going to hurt small businesses throughout our area and we know that,” said Gay. “We like their wallet, we like them, but not now.”