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Interior mayor would back a region-by-region re-opening of B.C.

FILE -- A woman walks past a restaurant closed due to COVID-19, in Vancouver, on May 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The mayor of Cranbrook says he'd back a region-by-region approach to gradually reopening B.C. amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Alberta and Washington state both have adopted a region-by-region reopening approach

Cranbrook's mayor says B.C.'s one-size-fits-all approach to easing COVID-19 restrictions may not be needed everywhere

CRANBROOK (NEWS 1130) – As British Columbians look forward to the province’s next phase of re-opening, Alberta and Washington state continue with their gradual easing of pandemic restrictions with region-by-region approaches.

And at least one mayor in B.C.’s southeastern interior would back a similar approach in this province.

Cranbrook is far from Metro Vancouver and the city’s mayor suggests lockdown measures in his region may have been more restrictive than needed.

“I don’t think it’s proper because if you look at the numbers, the big centres have way more cases than smaller centres like Cranbrook where we’ve had less than four cases,” says Mayor Lee Pratt.

He believes his city is more connected to Alberta than the coast.

“We’re Calgary’s playground, we are their backyard. They come here a lot and, of course, for people looking for a bigger city to go shopping, Calgary is probably their number one choice.”

Though Pratt says he would be wary of coordinating with Alberta’s pandemic plans.

“I’m not necessarily in favour of that. I mean, Calgary has had more incidents than we have, and we need to be cognizant of that.”

However, he feels B.C.’s province-wide, one-size-fits-all approach to easing COVID-19 restrictions may not be needed everywhere in the province, given how hard pandemic measures have hit small businesses.

“Personally, I think we will be okay. We keep hearing about the second wave but we didn’t really get the first wave. Unfortunately, our businesses all closed. They are reopening under a lot of restrictions and that’s going to affect their bottom lines for sure,” Pratt tells NEWS 1130, adding that people in his city have welcomed Phase Two of BC’s Restart Plan.

“I know that once it started to open up last week, the town seems to be busier and people are getting out more,” he says.

“But to be honest with you, most people I’m talking to are sick and tired of the news — it’s all we’ve been hearing — but there is so much misinformation out there. There’s a huge lack of trust of what they are hearing and that’s not good. A lot of people are saying they don’t know what to believe anymore and they are just fed up with it.”

Pratt suggests he would welcome a move to re-open some smaller communities more quickly than larger centres in B.C., and he suspects mayors of other cities far-removed from Metro Vancouver feel the same way.

“We would probably have a very strong look at it,” he says. “I’ve talked to a few who kind of feel the same way. Basically, we closed our facilities down and we didn’t have any cases. Did we overreact? I’m sure that a lot of the mayors are feeling that way, especially with the concern for their small businesses.”

Phase Three of BC’s Restart Plan is set for June to September, should COVID-19 transmission rates remain low.

It will allow for travel within B.C., the opening of more parks, hotels and resorts, and the partial return of K-12 in-class instruction.