Made-in-Kimberley strategy needed to reopen: Mayor
Our doors are beginning to open. The province recently released its BC Restart Plan – a phased plan to re-open the province. This is thanks to decreasing case numbers and lower levels of hospitalization. Great job B.C. and specifically Kimberley!
As a community, we have followed the Provincial Health Officer’s direction to the letter. When lock-down is the order, the message is the same for everyone. Going forward, we will continue to follow the PHO advice, but execute re-opening in a way that considers our unique needs as a community.
Since 2001, Kimberley’s single economic driver is tourism. This is significant because our retail business community is dependent on tourism spending. Local spending is not going to be enough to keep everyone viable. Opening up our economy is going to mean opening up to visitors, but it must be done in a safe way.
Tourism has been under siege since the beginning of this pandemic. The Alberta visitor experience the last few months in several East Kootenay communities is troubling. There are stories of contempt, conflict and even vandalism.
Secondary homeowners and regular visitors to Kimberley have been awesome, respecting our reasons for asking them to hunker down in their primary residence as per the advice of both Provincial Health Officials.
The next phases of the BC Restart Plan are about learning to live with this virus. It starts with re-opening businesses over the next several days and weeks. It means a thoughtful plan for reintroducing visitors to Kimberley. It also means a strong ‘shop local’ commitment from residents.
A business-focused stakeholder team has been working on an opening strategy for several weeks now. The team includes: John Hamilton (Tourism Kimberley), Daniel Holden (Kimberley Chamber of Commerce), Pat Elynuik (Northstar Mountain Village, Mountain Spirit, Kimberley Lodging Company), Ted Funston (Resorts of the Canadian Rockies) and myself.
Our goal is a made-in-Kimberley strategy that addresses all interests of the community: our residents, our businesses and our visitors. Great care is being taken to develop ‘safe’ behavioural practices and continuing to focus on protecting ourselves from COVID-19.
Details will be announced as we approach Phase 3 and the addition of activities as specified in the BC Restart Plan. In the meantime, stay informed, stay calm and be safe.
Lead image: The loss of tourists and impacts to the tourism industry is a big problem for visitor-welcoming towns in the East Kootenay, such as Kimberley. Above is a starkly empty Kimberley Alpine Resort parking lot, taken at a time when it would normally be filled in late-March. e-KNOW file photo
– Don McCormick is Mayor of the City of Kimberley