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Powell River mayor questions COVID-19 travel restrictions to Vancouver Island

Powell River’s Mayor says easing temporary travel restrictions to Vancouver Island only makes sense.

Dave Formosa is referring to restrictions imposed on the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which includes Powell River.

One of the restrictions, which last until Nov. 23rd, is strongly discouraging travel outside the region.

That includes the hour and 20 minute ferry ride to Vancouver Island.

Powell River is part of the Vancouver Coastal Health Region which, along with Fraser Health, has seen the lion’s share of coronavirus cases over the past few weeks.

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On Saturday, provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and health minister Adrian Dix announced a number of new restrictions for the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health Regions for the next two weeks, to try to curb the spread.

Formosa believes Powell River has a handle on the COVID-19 situation and says restricting travel to Vancouver Island is not only unfair, it doesn’t make sense.

“Our citizens can travel to Vancouver for whatever, but we can’t travel to the island,” he said. “That’s the biggest complaint I’m hearing. Why is it that we can’t have access to Vancouver Island which has far less issues with COVID and Vancouver has far more issues with COVID.”

Formosa said it’s a two-ferry ride to Vancouver yet they can’t get on the one ferry to Comox.

He said not only is the island closer, “it makes way more common sense as far as COVID issues.”

He believes Powell River’s cases are on the very low end of the spectrum.

“We did have a breakout in the Tla’amin Nation,” he added. “The Tla’amin Nation did an excellent job of dealing with it and getting it under control. At the end of September, there were approximately 37 cases within the Tla’amin Nation and two within the region.”

Formosa says as of late, they aren’t getting monthly numbers from the province on the amount they’ve received. 

“When you’re running a city you want to be prepared, you want to know how you’re doing. Your citizens ask constantly,  how are we doing, how many cases? We want to know how many cases so we can act appropriately as local leaders in local government. For some reason they don’t want to give us numbers.”

The BC Centre for Disease Control dashboard map shows that Powell River has 39 positive cases of the virus from January to September. 

Formosa said he was able to speak to government ministers, including Dix, as well as Dr. Henry directly during a meeting yesterday with B.C. mayors and regional district chairs.

“(The mayors) all got, alphabetically, an opportunity to ask four questions. We asked our four questions,” Formosa said. “It just seems crazy that we are allowed to go to Vancouver which is contrary to what they’re trying to do versus Vancouver Island. That is the big complaint.”

We have reached out to the Ministry of Health for a response  but have not yet heard back.

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