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

Christina Lake Fire Department’s Chief Joe Geary eyes the camera from behind the wheel of the department’s 40-year-old bush truck. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Christina Lake FD needs new equipment, upgrades, prompting loan by RDKB

It’s not whether the department needs the equipment, it’s how voters will pay for it, says Regional District

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

Selkirk College has begun its search in earnest for a leader to replace president Angus Graeme who is set to retire from his position in May 2022. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College seeks community input for president search

Current president Angus Graeme retires next year

A report shows nine West Kootenay communities are have more low-income persons than the provincial average. File photo
Study casts new light on poverty in the West Kootenay

Nine communities in region have more low-income residents than provincial average

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read