New travel restrictions are an overdue necessity

People have been able to travel and put others at risk for far too long

Roadblock locations shown are approximate. (Kristen Frier)

If you haven’t already heard, B.C. has officially instated roadside travel checks on Highway 1 near Boston Bar, Highway 3 near Manning Park, Highway 5 north of the Great Bear Snow Shed — a tunnel roughly 50 kilometres southeast of Hope — and Highway 99 near Lillooet. At these checkpoints, officers will ask for your driver’s license and the reason for your travel.

The good news is, if you’re travelling for work or school-related reasons, finding or providing care/medical services, or fleeing abuse or violence, you realistically should have very little trouble. Otherwise, police will turn you around and ask you to leave the region — or slap you with a $575 fine.

There have been plenty of concerns raised about the potential for BIPOC residents to be disproportionately impacted by the expansion of police powers to this extent, all of which are valid. There have also been signs over the last few days that have shown that the current restrictions in place have resulted in B.C. beginning to finally flatten the curve, suggesting that this measure could help attain that goal.

However, this was a policy that was sorely needed well before now — and the fact that B.C. waited this long to enforce it is extremely troubling.

In April, a whole group of anti-maskers had no qualms about taking a ferry from Victoria to Vancouver to participate in a rally of those with similar beliefs. In a prime display of maturity, one passenger refused to put on a mask after being asked to by a ferry worker and became concerningly belligerent.

The result? The North Saanich-Sidney RCMP were called, the passenger was fined and banned from riding again that Friday and the ferry had to turn all the way back around to Swartz Bay, putting it 44 minutes behind schedule. All because the province, for whatever reason, couldn’t have implemented these measures earlier when cases reached the thousands.

What’s even more disturbing is that this was not the only instance of this kind of behaviour. Back in October, when the second wave of COVID-19 was rapidly approaching, 15 other people who were heading to an anti-mask protest were arrested in Horseshoe Bay for causing a disturbance aboard a ferry from Nanaimo.

The incident drew about four police vehicles and officers with police dogs. It resulted in the ferry’s return being delayed by 45 minutes and these 15 individuals being banned from riding.

Each one of these incidents — and the characters behind them — have received plenty of harsh media attention, as well as rebukes from B.C. premier John Horgan, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, and public safety minister Mike Farnworth.

However, until now, very little has been done to prevent these individuals coming in from outside Vancouver and infecting the populace, both with COVID and their ignorance. Hopefully, these new measures can deter such folks from leaving their regions – ideally, for good. In the meantime, I, for one, will be staying well within my lane and enjoying all the Lower Mainland has to offer.