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Posted: October 20, 2020

MP provides update for village council

By Stephanie Stevens

If they’d known he was coming sooner they’d have baked a cake… or at least had him on the formal agenda.

MP Rob Morrison

Kootenay-Columbia Member of Parliament Rob Morrison stopped by the Village of Radium Hot Springs regular scheduled council meeting Oct. 14. While not on the agenda, arrangements for the visit were made in advance and he was expected to address mayor and council.

Morrison updated the council on his newest appointment to the National Security Commission, as well as let them know he was aware of the financial hit tourism-reliant areas like Radium have taken with the border closed due to COVID-19.

He noted that despite the purchase of thousands of rapid testing kits by Air Canada, the airline was still navigating hurdles put up by the government in using them to get visitors across the border.

“When I get back to Ottawa I plan to ask the health minister what’s up,” Morrison said, adding while he agrees we have to be safe, the economy also has to be safe guarded and some sensibility in the rules regarding self-isolation.

“Just recently a local couple, in their 70s, who have a place in Mexico, decided they were going to drive there,” he said. “They got to the U.S. border and were turned away because they are not essential workers. But when they turned around to head home, the Canadian border patrol informed them they had to quarantine for 14 days. They had not even left the country!”

Morrison said he believes Canada needs rapid testing at the border in order “to get people here. We have to be careful (regarding COVID-19), but we are two billion dollars in debt.”

Morrison noted he had enjoyed a “soak in the hot pools,” had supper at the local pub and was staying at a Radium bed and breakfast.

Mayor Clara Reinhardt said she was pleased he was able to make it to the pools as they had been working hard to get them up and running again, adding that she, along with Julian England, CEO for Canadian Hot Springs and Kootenay National Park Superintendent Rick Kubian had been planning a trip to Ottawa prior to COVID-19 to talk about pricing for admission to the pools.

“The hot pools are totally reliant on their own funding, and it has not changed for over a decade,” Reinhardt said. “Is that going to be a discussion?”

Morrison said he was aware the pricing was “about 15 years old” and he had asked Kubian to give him the “Coles notes” version of a proposal on pricing structure he could take with him to Ottawa.

Another challenge Reinhardt noted the pools were facing in the midst of COVID-19 are line ups for entrance, which the weekend previous were up to three hours long.

“They (hot pool staff) have to go by three guidelines,” she said, with the triage of provincial, federal and national park making it really tough.

Morrison agreed that that particularly for communities like Radium that rely on attractions like the hot pools decisions need to be made that balance economy and safety.

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