Avoid visiting over the May long weekend - “Now is not the time to visit. We welcome you to come in the future when you can experience all that Salt Spring has to offer, but now is not that time.” With the May long weekend looming, that’s the message from Salt Spring Island’s businesses, farms, and essential services.
BC Ferries is reminding people to continue to avoid non-essential travel, and has extended the reduced ferry service to Salt Spring Island and other southern Gulf Islands.
“I know the feeling of wanting a getaway -- we all do -- but that’s not what essential travel is,” says Laura Patrick, chair of the COVID-19 Farm and Business Response & Recovery Task Force, and Salt Spring Island trustee for the Islands Trust. “What’s essential right now is stopping the spread of COVID-19 in British Columbia, and maintaining Salt Spring’s limited supplies and services for locals,”
Almost everything Salt Spring Island residents need comes via ferries. “There are holes in the shelves at our grocery stores,” says Jessica Harkema, Executive Director of the Salt Spring Island Chamber of Commerce. “And many of our essential service workers rely on ferries to get to work every day. We need our supply chains to stay operating, and locals supplied with the essentials.”
Most Salt Spring businesses remain closed, including the popular Saturday Market which would normally draw thousands on the May long weekend. Salt Spring Islanders are working together to support their merchants and farmers with buy local and ‘explore local’ campaigns with islanders supporting islanders.
The Canadian Coast Guard has told boaters to avoid non-essential trips and if already in the area to avoid making supply and grocery trips on the islands. The Islands Trust had a similar message urging visitors not to visit, and to return at a later time.
“In normal times, visitors are really important to our local economy and culture,” notes Harkema. “These are not normal times. Our priority now is serving our community. Remember, even as restrictions are lifted, the guidelines are to stay in your own community unless it’s for essential travel. We look forward to welcoming visitors back when it is safe to do so.”
About Salt Spring Island COVID-19 Farm & Business Recovery Task Force:
The Farm & Business Response & Recovery Task Force is comprised of local community leaders representing Salt Spring businesses, growers, local officials, and non-governmental organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Community Economic Development Commission. Working in collaboration with the CRD and the Province, its goal is to ensure island-wide coordination and action related to the economic impacts to Salt Spring Island as a result of the pandemic.