The local detachment is short-staffed. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Police powers in travel restriction orders too vague: Sparwood mayor

Sparwood’s mayor said it was not clear how the RCMP would factor into the new orders announced today

The new travel restrictions introduced on April 23 are not clear enough when it comes to enforcement by police and on the provincial border, according to Sparwood’s Mayor, David Wilks.

Police in B.C. have been given the authority to issue fines of $575 to people caught travelling outside of their home health authority without a valid reason starting from today, but Wilks said that it was unreasonable to expect police to be able to take on such a huge task given the number of travelers.

“I don’t believe that the Elk Valley detachment has the manpower to do any type of (additional) enforcement,” said Wilks, noting that the detachment which covers all of the Elk Valley and South Country was supposed to be manned by up to 18 officers, but were down to around a dozen. The Elk Valley detachment works on the border with Alberta.

“This detachment is struggling with manpower to begin with. Every detachment across the province is struggling with manpower issues, and the Elk Valley detachment is no different,” he said.

Wilks, who is a retired RCMP officer himself said that regular police work wasn’t going anywhere.

“It’s not as if nobody will commit a crime because the police have to go do random road checks, it doesn’t work that way.”

Wilks said that Minister Mike Farnworth’s likening random police checks on travellers between health authorities to checking for impaired drivers wasn’t a good comparison.

“It’s completely different as the police union said – and I completely agree with them as a retired member – when you’re doing a counterattack check-stop, you’re looking for a specific criminal offense which is impaired driving, whether by alcohol or drugs – in this case you’re just randomly stopping people and asking them where they are going.”

He also said that news from the B.C. Government that they would be putting up additional signage on the border with Alberta and between health regions wasn’t going to achieve much.

“We’ve had a sign up at the Alberta border for 14 months now. I don’t know what other sign they’re going to put up.”

The B.C. Government is not going to set up any roadblocks or checks on the border.

B.C. police forces have also said they take ‘exception’ to conducting any roadblocks or any random stops. Similar laws allowing police in Ontario to conduct random stops were rolled back only days after they were introduced, with police services there rejecting the orders.

More information on where the RCMP fall into the new orders is yet to be released, with a promise from Minister Farnworth that that information would be forthcoming next week.

Beyond the policing side of the new orders, Wilks said that given Sparwood and communities in the Elk Valley were a stone’s throw from the Alberta border, it remained problematic to enforce travel restrictions given the area’s reliance on Alberta for services and the number of Elk Valley workers that live across the border – a stance he has maintained throughout the pandemic.

“It’s a struggle, but the police will deal with it in the manner they see fit. We in border towns will continue to respect those coming in from out of province, especially essential workers that we rely on every day.

“There are hundreds of red and white plates in town…they’re all highly likely working at Teck.”

READ MORE: B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

RCMP

Just Posted

South Okanagan MP Richard Cannings wants to see dental coverage for all Canadians. (courtesy of Pixabay)
OPINION: South Okanagan MP fights for universal dental care

One in three Canadians have no dental coverage, with COVID making it even worse

Dep. Fire Chiefs Rich Piché (left) and Stephane Dionne said they were disappointed that only one person showed up at the George Evans fire hall’s recruitment drive Tuesday evening, May. 11. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks Fire/Rescue says rural fire hall at risk of closing

Home insurance could spike across North Fork if George Evans fire hall loses fire protection status

Adam Hamdan has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Christina Lake man given temporary residence in Canada

Adam Hamdan had been facing deportation to Jordan, where he holds citizenship through his Palestinian parents

Ted Invictus (left) pulls a piano through the crosswalk between Market Avenue and 2nd Street as Nathan Vogel plays a few notes Monday morning, May 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Music-lovers deliver street piano in Grand Forks

Musician gives one-handed performance as volunteers rolled the Heintzman through the city’s main street

Thursday, Feb. 4: RDKB Chief Engineer Darryl Funk hoists a banner commemorating last year’s championship season by the Bantam House Bruins. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Bantam Bruins honoured at hair-raising banner ceremony at Grand Forks’ Jack Goddard Arena

Asst. coach Mike Tollis said he reluctantly gave in to the team’s victory wish that he cut his pony tale

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

The Libby Dam on the Kootenai River in Montana. The dam created the Koocanusa Reservoir, which straddles the B.C./Montana border. (photo courtesy Wikipedia)
Outflow at Libby Dam to be increased

Volume increase to aid migration and spawning conditions for endangered white sturgeon in the Kootenai River

Most Read