The B.C. and Alberta governments as well as the Columbia Shuswap Regional District have asked that residents of both provinces do not travel and stay at home over the Easter weekend. (File photo)

Column: Looking north for direction on B.C./Alberta border concerns

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

In their frequent requests to “stay home” during this time to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, authorities should have perhaps specified which home.

Reports of Albertans making their way to their seasonal/secondary home in the Shuswap have been the subject of much debate on social media. There is the argument that Albertans pay high property taxes on their B.C. residences, and they should be allowed to choose where they wish to isolate, however contrary that may be to the recommendation we avoid travel.

So, prior to the Easter long weekend, provincial and local authorities got specific.

“Let us be clear: Staying home means no travelling – especially across our borders,” commented B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro in a joint statement issued on April 9. “Instead, we encourage everyone to find ways to connect virtually this long weekend, including by video chat or with phone calls.”

Read more: Yukon agents placed at B.C. and N.W.T. boundaries to limit spread of COVID-19

Read more: Not the time for vacation: Shuswap trucker discouraged to see B.C.-bound Alberta travellers

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District echoed the sentiment, calling on everyone to avoid all non-essential travel and remain at their “primary residence” at this time.

What is one’s primary residence? It’s safe to assume this would be what the B.C. government refers to as our principal residence where we pay bills and receive mail; “the residence used in government records for things like income tax, Medical Services Plan, driver’s licence and vehicle registration.”

While there doesn’t appear to be any desire at the provincial level for closing the B.C./Alberta border, perhaps the two provincial governments should consider the direction taken in the Yukon, where enforcement officers are now stationed at highway access points along the territory’s borders. Travellers entering the Yukon are required to provide their contact information, declaration of any COVID-19 symptoms and must self-isolate for 14 days. Travellers passing through the Yukon must do so within 24 hours and with minimal stops.

This may help get the message across that the provinces are taking the COVID-19 crisis seriously and want and need everyone’s support in bringing it to an end as soon as possible.

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