Coalmont man defends decision to host campers, despite stay-at-home advisories

Coalmont man defends decision to host campers, despite stay-at-home advisories

“People all figure if you come from the coast there is a virus trail”

A Coalmont area man who opened a small private campground on his property over the Easter long weekend – garnering considerable media attention – told The Spotlight he’s not sure what all the fuss was about.

Ernie Rice said he regrets that people were upset about the campers, but insisted all his visitors behaved responsibly.

“They all knew the situation. They were all spaced out and they were social distancing.”

Rice holds the maintenance contract for the adjacent Granite Creek recreation site, and said these campers stay on his own property each year.

All provincial camping sites remain closed during the COVID 19 crisis.

Related: Law enforcement will patrol shuttered campgrounds in Cascades this weekend

However a group of 14 friends were invited to the Rice property to camp for the weekend.

He said they brought their own food and supplies.

Rice stressed the stay-at-home direction from the province is “not an order, it’s an advisory.”

He added there is no reason to assume his visitors were sick or had been exposed to the virus.

“People all figure if you come from the coast there is a virus trail, like a chem trail that follows you.”

Getting away from the congestion of the city is important for peoples’ mental health, he added.

Police visited the Coalmont property Friday. An officer found approximately nine trailers, according to Princeton RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes.

“It’s private property….Yes, the people broke the (rule) about non-essential travel. They are practicing social distancing and the information will be forwarded to the provincial health office on Tuesday.”

RCMP don’t have the authority to make arrests or recommend charges under the circumstances, he said.

Hughes explained in some jurisdictions police are able to ticket offenders under municipal or city bylaws. However, there are no such bylaws in Princeton or the RDOS.

He added social media photos of the makeshift camping area did not fairly illustrate the distance between the trailers.

Related: Long weekend vacationers flood to rural Princeton, cause stir for government, RCMP

Many people took to social media to express concern about the situation, amid related reports of a flood of visitors pouring into area holiday communities like Tulameen.

“What the hell are these people doing here?” asked Bob Coyne, Area H director for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS).

“The federal government has asked them to stay at home. The province has asked them to stay at home. What is wrong with these people?”

Coyne reiterated his concerns that out-of-town visitors create stress on the supply chain of Princeton’s only grocery store, put first responders at risk, and could easily overwhelm the town’s small hospital in the event of an outbreak.

Related: Spike of visitors to Princeton-area stressing grocery supply chain and healthcare teams

To report a typo, email:
publisher@similkameenspotlight.com
.



andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Kampe Estate across from the Channel has been bought by a developer who wants to put up two towers. (Brennan Phillips Western News)
Residents concerned over plans for Kampe property

Some residents were not happy to hear about plans for two six-storey apartment buildings

Penticton Vees continue their winning streak carrying a 5-0 win title as of Sunday night's hockey action. (Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography)
Penticton Vees continue winning streak

Sunday night’s 6-1 win has them with five in a row since the start of the season

Mainly clear and sunny skies are expected for the Okanagan-Shuswap region this week. (Maxpixels photo)
Warm, sunny week ahead in Okanagan-Shuswap

Daytime highs will reach the low 20s with mainly clear skies this week

The City of Penticton will offer large item garbage collection later this month. (Black Press file photo)
Penticton to offer large item garbage collection

Items will be collected April 19 to 23

These nails were collected off the Campbell Mountain bike trails in Penticton this weekend. Someone placed them all over the trail. (Facebook)
Hundreds of nails placed on popular Penticton bike trail

A mountain biker took to Facebook to warn others about the nails

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

A car sheared a Hydro pole and the driver was pinned by a fence pole on 43rd Avenue Saturday, April 10. (Carmen Jaster photo)
Suspected impaired driver ‘lucky to be alive’ after crash in Vernon yard

Impaired driving investigation underway after driver shears Hydro pole and narrowly misses being impaled

A crane stands in the middle of a fire-ravaged Glenmore Road construction site on Thursday, April 8. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Evacuation order remains in effect around burned Kelowna construction site

Assessment of potentially risky crane to take place this afternoon

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Interior Health improves access to mental health supports amid COVID-19 pandemic. (Stock)
Interior Health connects people to mental health resources amid COVID

310-MHSU line receives positive feedback in early months of rollout

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
North Okanagan landlord’s home trashed by tenants

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Most Read