Please don’t come to Squamish unless it is essential. That is the message the District of Squamish and other local governments are sending out.
From today until May 25, Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District will only welcome essential travel through the region, local leaders say.
The move is in support of the Province of British Columbia’s COVID-19 travel restrictions announced Friday.
Anyone from outside the Sea to Sky who planned on coming for recreation in the next month is asked to postpone that trip.
This includes both day trips and overnight trips to the region.
The provincial government announced new travel restrictions Friday morning that are in effect as of April 23.
This comes as COVID-19 cases surge in the province.
As of April 22, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 500 folks with positive cases of COVID-19 were fighting for their lives in hospitals. The highest number to date in the pandemic.
Squamish has recently been named a COVID-19 hotspot.
“We urge Lower Mainland and North Shore residents to not travel to the Sea to Sky region for recreation as we work our way back from being a COVID-19 hot spot, and to prevent transmission between our communities,” said Mayor Karen Elliott in a news release. “Like you, we want to get to the other side of these restrictions so that our local businesses and citizens can welcome you back with confidence and excitement. We ask you to help us get through this last push by making a selfless choice and staying close to home.”
Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton also weighed in on the restrictions.
“As Minister [Mike] Farnworth said, do not go to Whistler or Tofino, even on a day trip. Everyone should stay close to home,” he said. “The Sea to Sky region is united asking that people not visit until after the May long weekend. We look forward to being able to welcome you back this summer.”
Pemberton Mayor Mike Richman echoed the other mayors in his statement.
“It is with great reluctance that we are asking visitors to stay away right now so that we can welcome them back to our communities in the near future,” said Richman. “We know people enjoy Pemberton’s mountain biking trails, hiking trails, and recreation areas and we hope this summer season will be an active, healthy and profitable one for all but that is only possible if people adhere to these new restrictions. We look forward to being able to show off and share with guests our extraordinary valley again very soon.”
The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District's Jen Ford also stated the SLRD's support for the restrictions and joined the call for non-residents to stay away from the Sea to Sky for now.
“If we are to be successful in slowing the spread of COVID-19, we must all take a step back, and exercise extreme caution. Some of our municipalities in the SLRD have been hard-hit with surges in COVID-19 cases, and our rural communities, from Porteau Cove all the way to the Bridge River Valley, face significant risk of exposure with increased visitation to the area. When the time is right, we will welcome visitors back, but now is not the time," said Ford, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District Board chair.
Those who do ignore the restrictions and travel to Squamish for recreation can expect a police presence, the District of Squamish said in a news release sent out late Friday.
“The Sea to Sky RCMP will continue to conduct proactive patrols in popular areas to uphold public health orders to support the community and keep everyone safe,” said Sea to Sky Inspector Robert Dykstra.
District bylaw officers will continue to focus on parking and camping hotspots and will be monitoring phone lines for reports of problems.
Bylaw issues can be reported to 604-815-5067 (leave a message).
For the latest provincial restrictions go to http://gov.bc.ca/covid-19.
~With a file from