Following concerns of over-crowding, the City of White Rock is rolling up the welcome mat and asking visitors from outside the White Rock-South Surrey area to just stay home for now.
In a news release issued Wednesday, the city encourages people who live outside of the immediate region to stay within their own communities to help stem the spread of COVID-19.
“These are challenging times, and everyone is trying to do their part,” White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker said in the news release.
“If you live in White Rock or South Surrey, or are from the Semiahmoo First Nation, please enjoy all White Rock has to offer. Get takeout from our local restaurants, use curbside pickup and follow all COVID-19 safety rules if you are going into stores, eating outside at restaurants or enjoying the outdoors.”
The release notes a public health order regarding travel restrictions is in place until May 25.
While residents who live within the Fraser Health region – except those who live in Hope – and Vancouver Coastal are within their legal rights to visit White Rock, the mayor is encouraging them not to.
“If you are not local, we look forward to welcoming you back when it’s safe to do so. There are many beautiful places in B.C., so please stay close to home and enjoy your neighbourhood,” Walker said.
The city is also encouraging everyone to wear a mask while on the promenade, the White Rock Pier, on Marine Drive, Johnston Road and North Bluff Road when it’s busy.
The province recommends residents not take overnight vacations away from their community, but rather stay close to home and visit beaches, trails or parks in or near their community. However, the province has not made the recommendation a provincial health order.
Asked for his response to the measure, White Rock Business Improvement Association executive director Alex Nixon said he is glad that the city recognizes South Surrey as part of the White Rock community.
“We have a mutually beneficial arrangement with our neighbours north of 16th (Avenue),” Nixon said. “In terms of us, our feeling is that most people seem to be sticking in their home communities and certainly we shifted our marketing to focus on that, the Peninsula.”
However, Nixon noted that people who live in the Fraser Health region are still within their legal right to visit White Rock.
“But obviously, the city has different thoughts on that and that’s up to them.”
The city issued the release after receiving direction from council. For the last two weeks, council has been mulling options on how it can decrease the number of visitors to the city while encouraging residents to support local businesses.
Nixon and the BIA have been supportive of the city turning a stretch of Marine Drive into a one-way route to allow waterfront restaurants the ability to expand their patio space to the sidewalk.
While council turned down a motion to turn Marine Drive into a one-way route last week, staff and council are to consult with the BIA to look at ways to make the idea – or some alternative – workable during the current ban on inside dining.
Nixon said he spoke to Walker on Tuesday, and plans to meet with the mayor, the city’s chief administrative officer, and business owners tomorrow (May 6).
“I’m looking forward to chatting with the mayor and the business owners. I think it’s important for us to collaborate and I’m looking forward to see what comes out of that collaboration to help improve seating capacity on Marine Drive,” Nixon said.