Sparwood mayor David Wilks was in attendance at the street party to discuss potential changes to Centennial Square.

Wilks reflects on new public health orders

Sparwood Mayor Wilks said that it was important to work towards a normal Christmas in 2020

Sparwood Mayor David Wilks has pushed back on ‘fear mongering’ and any talk that a more traditional Christmas could be at risk in 2020 as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, expressing confidence the communities of the Elk Valley could lead by example.

“I don’t follow the fear mongering of the federal government or anyone else that says we’re going to cancel Christmas. I’m sorry but Santa Claus is coming on the 25th and he’s going to provide children with what they normally expect to get, and we can’t ruin that. That’s not on the cards at all as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

With new provincial public health orders snapping in to place last week, municipal governments have been on the front line of quickly interpreting, and adapting to the new rules in place.

In reflecting on the new orders, Wilks said that for the District of Sparwood, the challenge over the last few days has been figuring out what can and can’t go ahead at municipal recreational facilities.

“It’s a challenge for municipalities to try and read between the lines with the provincial government in what they’re trying to enact,” he said, explaining that it took some time to establish what spaces could be used for what, such as the difference between private rentals for families, or for coaching sessions.

Wilks said that he believed the community in Sparwood had taken the challenges of 2020 in its stride, and that for those that chose not to wear masks as mandated by the provincial government, “it is what it is.”

“If some people believe this is all a hoax or whatever it is, you’re not going to change their minds and so be it,” he said.

“This is real, it’s killing a lot of people, and until we get a vaccine and even after we get a vaccine this is still going to continue to be a problem.”

He expressed doubt that anyone not keen on wearing masks would refuse to wear one in their own place of employment, using local major employer Teck as an example.

“I (challenge) anyone who doesn’t want to wear a mask who works at Teck…the next time they go to work, stand in line to get on a bus and not wear a mask… (they know) exactly what’s going to happen. They’re going to wear their masks.”

On talk of potentially enforced limited travel between provinces to limit the spread of the disease, Wilks said that wasn’t going to fly, saying that as a border town, “it would be a nightmare” to enforce, instead encouraging personal responsibility.

“We’re a free and democratic society, and I just lay it back on the individual. If you’re not feeling well, stay at home. If there’s no need for you to come here except for the fact that you want to come over and have a coffee – could you have a coffee maybe next week when we get better, clearer direction of where we’re going,” he said.

“The last thing I want to see is to have to shut down all our recreational facilities during Christmas. During the one time when all the kids are home from school, and there’s an opportunity for families to do something together in a fun environment.”

Until then, Wilks said he hoped that the provincial government and health authorities could improve their transparency on alerting the public to COVID-19 cases in their communities.

“We shouldn’t have to learn about a positive COVID-19 case in Fernie from the Vancouver Sun. That is terrible. And that’s what (local municipal governments) have been calling for all the time. We’re not out here to identify the people that have COVID-19, but we do want to know what exists in our general vicinity.”

Wilks’s message to those in the community over the next two weeks (and beyond) was simple. “Wear a mask – it won’t kill you. Social distance. Keep your bubbles tight,” adding that it was also important to reach out to the elderly to keep in touch.

“It’s tough for some people – it’s really tough on the elderly. Make sure you phone someone once in a while. I call my mom just about three to four times a week.”

“My guess is if the numbers don’t improve (by Dec. 8), you can probably guess where we’re going, and no one wants to go there. So let’s do our part, and show that in our part of the province we’re taking this seriously and we’re going to lead rather than follow.”

CoronavirusMunicipal Government

Just Posted

A small scale example of how big the maximus dinosaur is compared to Sparwood's Titan truck. (Image courtesy of District of Sparwood)
Sparwood goes digging for fossils (maybe)

The district is exploring options that could see it acquire a giant dinosaur skeleton

Pride and Transgender flags wave on the lawn of Fernie's City Hall. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
Fernie Pride launches inclusivity survey

The survey will help identify gaps in supports for the LGBTQ2+ community in the Elk Valley

The freshly re-painted rainbow crossings in Fernie in 2021. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Rainbow crossings come to Fernie

Volunteers painted the crossings at 3rd Ave and 5th Street in Fernie in pride colours

Coal Creek and forested land near Fernie, B.C. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Elk Valley Regional Land Trust inks deal with Community Foundation of Kootenay Rockies

Donations to the trusts project to secure forested land in the Elk Valley can now be made through the CFKR

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-month-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

Most Read