Visitors explain why they travelled to Vancouver Island this long weekend

Visitors explain why they travelled to Vancouver Island this long weekend
WatchA handful of people told CHEK News why they travelled to Vancouver Island on the long weekend despite warnings to not travel unless essential.

BC Ferries sailings were full on Easter Monday, with many people heading home to the Lower Mainland after a long weekend on Vancouver Island.

They travelled here despite rising COVID-19 variant cases, and warnings from health and government officials that travel should only be essential.

CHEK News spoke to a number of people waiting in line at the Departure Bay ferry terminal in Nanaimo on Monday.

Jim Bruder, who was returning to Vancouver, told CHEK News he came over to Vancouver Island to attend his father’s funeral in Nanaimo.

“It was outdoors, 15 people [and] just family,” said Bruder.

However, Bruder says he was surprised by how many others were on the ferry.

“I think a lot of people were here for some fun and maybe to get away, but who am I to say?  Because we were here for something essential, we didn’t get out of our vehicle,” he said.

Cody Beck, who travelled from Abbotsford, was among those who came to the Island for a bit of fun, telling CHEK News that he enjoyed his time in Tofino.

“Everyone was thrilled. Everyone was super happy to have customers and [we] sat on the patios. [We] enjoyed the patios,” said Beck.

He said he understands that some people view their trip as non-essential, but isn’t bothered by it.

“It doesn’t bother me, but I’m sure some people would get offended by it…but we’re living our lives, enjoying our time.”

Two women told CHEK News they travelled from North Vancouver to go surfing, stressing that they remained physically distant from others their entire trip.

“We were very distant the whole time. We brought everything we needed so we didn’t really have to go into town at all,” said a woman named Mel, who declined to provide her last name.

RELATED: Increased travel between Vancouver Island has many worried as COVID-19 cases climb

Many on Vancouver Island have expressed their concerns about the number of people who travelled to the region for non-essential reasons this past weekend.

However one man, who travelled from North Vancouver to see family in Parksville, says there’s a double standard when Vancouver Islander’s raise concerns about non-essential travelers.

“I mean, they reserve the right to come to Vancouver but they don’t want us to come over here.  It’s a little touchy subject as far as I’m concerned,” said Michael from North Vancouver, who also didn’t provide his last name.

Health officials have also pleaded with people not to travel unless it is absolutely essential as COVID-19 cases, particularly variants, continue to skyrocket in B.C.

Adrian Dix, the province’s health minister, told reporters during a media availability on Monday afternoon, that it isn’t possible for the government to have “armies” enforcing travel rules, and begged people to stay home unless it is essential.

“I just can’t be more clear on this.  If you don’t need to travel, don’t travel right now,” he said.

Banning travel within a province the size of British Columbia isn’t realistic, according to Dix, who also said the government won’t be shutting down BC Ferries.

“We need to have ferries go to Vancouver Island,” he said.  “There is a lot of essential travel, a lot of goods that travel that is required.”

Dix said the province has “powerful measures” in place but stressed that it is not acceptable for people, particularly from Victoria, to be taking a day trip to Tofino right now or travelling for non-essential reasons.

All of those who CHEK spoke to said they enjoyed their trips, and none said they felt judged for visiting Vancouver Island.

Cody Beck, who travelled from Abbotsford, told CHEK News he enjoyed his time in Tofino.

Mel, who declined to provide her last name, told CHEK News she travelled from North Vancouver to go surfing on Vancouver Island.

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Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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