Mayor Don McCormick discussed the provincial government’s plan for reopening B.C. and said he is representing the City in a group of five stakeholders who are working on Kimberley’s plan for reopening, which should be revealed after the upcoming long weekend.
The province unveiled their four-phase plan for getting B.C. into “the new normal” and McCormick said that they’ve left a lot of flexibility open for municipalities to maneuver one way or another, depending on factors such as the number of new confirmed cases, but this can create confusion when drawing up plans at the municipal level.
“We’re working our way through that right now and coming up with what is our definitive plan that will be effective June 1,” McCormick said.
He added that while he feels the government’s plan has been talking about going from closed to open, from his point of view, the transition is really about going from a 100 per cent focus on public health to a balance between focusing on public health as well as economic health.
“Because if anybody thinks that just opening the doors is going to have people lining up with pent up demand I think they’re in for a disappointment, because I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen,” he explained. “And as a result of that, our plan for being able to drive demand back to our retail stores has to be a really, really solid plan and that’s what we’re working on now.”
The other four stakeholders in the group working on this plan are John Hamilton from Tourism Kimberley, Daniel Holden with the Chamber of Commerce, Pat Elynuik representing Northstar Mountain Spirit and Ted Funston of Resorts of the Canadian Rockies.
“We have been working diligently on what this plan is going to look like,” McCormick said. “It has to be in the best interest of our residents, of our businesses and our visitors and we will be communicating what that is in or around the June 1 date, which is the provincial government’s date for the beginning of phase two.”
One of the factors the group is considering is that although there’s been a big focus around supporting local businesses here in Kimberley and around the East Kootenay, the fact that we rely so heavily on tourism to drive our economy means that simply shopping local isn’t going to cut it.
“We have to figure out how we transition back to visitor traffic again, but in a safe way, both for the community and for the visitors,” McCormick said. “And that’s the second thing that we’re trying to figure out right now is how do we do that in a way that is going to be acceptable to everybody.”
The Bulletin will followup as the plan develops.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.