The place to be this holiday season was right at home, according to many Vancouver Island mayors and councillors surveyed on Wednesday, some of whom scrapped travel plans to exotic locales.
The Times Colonist contacted more than 90 council members serving 15 municipalities from Duncan to Port Hardy, asking them if they had travelled outside of Canada since the pandemic was declared in March, including any trips over the Christmas holiday. Of the 26 who responded by press time, none had taken out-of-country trips.
Ucluelet Mayor Mayco Noël’s emailed reply was succinct: “Hell no. It’s very clear to stay home!”
Two Greater Victoria councillors — one in Victoria and another in Metchosin — acknowledged this week that they travelled out of the country last month. Victoria Coun. Shamarke Dubow apologized for going to East Africa, while Metchosin’s Kyara Kahakauwila defended her trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for a wedding.
Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells said he has not left B.C. since prior to February 2020. “My family did have a trip planned to South Africa in 2020 but cancelled it when only essential trips were recommended. I also cancelled trips outside of B.C. and down to the U.S. for the same reason.”
Courtenay Coun. Doug Hillian said he sings in a community choir that had been scheduled to travel to New Orleans for a week in mid-March for a musical tour. The choir cancelled its trip just prior to the federal call not to travel.
“We were refunded hotel costs and most of the tour charges, but have a credit with Alaska Airlines as we’d been planning to fly from Seattle where we have close relatives that we now haven’t seen for a year.”
Comox Coun. Stephanie McGowan said she spent her holidays with only those in her household, and has not been out of Canada since prior to restrictions being imposed in March. “I find it extremely disturbing that some of us who are supposed to be setting an example have decided they are above the orders that are in place specifically to keep our communities safe.”
Duncan Coun. Tom Duncan also remained at home during the holiday, and called the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test when a Canadian returns to Canada from a foreign country long overdue. “[It] should have been a requirement from the initial travel restrictions.”
In Sayward, Mayor Mark Baker said he has not left the Island in over a year. “And I have no plans to leave until the pandemic is over.”