Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick.

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick.

Balance between community safety and tourism is a delicate one: Mayor McCormick

Although Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick said he had been some what wary about the public health orders brought down last week, having had a chance to look them over, he says they actually help.

For instance, he says he was glad to see the mask mandate.

“We didn’t mandate masks as a city because it’s not our purview,” he said. “It was good to see Dr. Henry step up with the mask mandate. We can all follow public health orders.

“With mandatory masks people will be less contentious. There are still deniers, there always will be. There will always be outliers, but we don’t need 100 per cent to bring this thing to its knees.”

“For travel, we are in the shoulder season right now, so the timing is pretty good. The order will be reviewed on December 7 and the resort doesn’t open till the 15th. So we still in a good position to have a Christmas season. The directives were less narrow than I expected. No businesses have had to shut down due to the directives.”

Kimberley is somewhat better placed than other communities give that most of our accommodation stock is condos. That can help with visitors isolating as a family unit when they visit.

“About 30 per cent of our resident accommodation is owned by outsiders,” McCormick said. “About 900 of those are owned by Albertans, and another 550 from people in other parts of B.C. Secondary homeowners behave like community members when they are here, particularly in the Christmas season when owners don’t rent out but visit themselves. They are a pretty safe group.

The big issue for tourism dependent towns like Kimberley is the balance between community safety and the economy, he says.

“There is a balance between visitors and safety of the community and it’s a delicate one.

“If you lean completely to the side of safety, businesses will shut down, jobs will be lost, and our population will decrease, making it more expensive for those who remain.

“But if the economy is your only concern, you risk safety. The balance is tricky.”

McCormick says Resorts of the Rockies have done an awesome job if you look at all the protocols in place for the coming ski season, and also behind the scenes where they have created contingency plans.

And make no mistake, the ski hill is very valuable to Kimberley’s economy.

“We still get more people here for the three month winter season than we do the other nine months of the year,” he said. “Not sure people understand how big the ski industry is to our economy.”

Right now, we have to tip toe through the minefield, McCormick says — follow all the guidelines on sanitation and distancing and masks.

“One good thing is, we are not seeing any community transmission in Kimberley.”