British Columbia

Quebec spring breakers arrive in B.C., despite warnings against non-essential travel

Spring break in Quebec starts Monday, and some travellers have already arrived in B.C. for a ski vacation.

Following legal review, B.C. premier said last month interprovincial travel would not be restricted

A group of travellers arrive from Quebec en route to Whistler, B.C. Sunday Feb. 28, 2021. (Cory Correia/CBC)

As spring break starts in Quebec on Monday, some residents are flying to ski resorts in B.C., despite health recommendations against interprovincial travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Both governments in Quebec and B.C. have urged people to avoid all non-essential travel at this point in the pandemic. 

In B.C., health officials have said those wishing to ski or snowboard should stick to day trips within their local mountain ranges. 

The message, however, appeared to escape some Quebec tourists who arrived at YVR Sunday en route to Whistler, B.C.

"They said stay within Canada as much as you can. But there's nothing else to do in Quebec, so we are here to enjoy the snow," said one traveller.

"Here the restaurants are open ... compared to Montreal, the restaurants are still closed," said another.

'I'm just here to go skiing and enjoy my time off,' said the traveller from Quebec on the left. (Cory Correia/CBC)

A spokesperson for Vail Resorts, which owns Whistler-Blackcomb, says their safety protocols and guidelines are straightforward: guests are encouraged to follow the recommendations of health authorities.

"You will not be allowed up the mountain if the protocols aren't followed and we enforce all these protocols while the guest is on mountain," said Marc Riddell, Vail's director of communications.

'Please stay local'

Whistler's mayor says despite the recommendations against non-essential travel, there is nothing he can do to stop people from travelling to the resort community — except ask them to stay home.

"Our request remains: Please stay local. And enjoy your holiday with your household," said Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton. "It's the same message we are sharing here [in B.C.] frankly." 

Last month, following a legal review, B.C. Premier John Horgan said interprovincial travel would not be restricted

However, he said the province could impose stronger restrictions on non-essential travellers if they are causing harm to the health and safety of British Columbians. 

2% of Whistler visitors from Quebec

Tourism Whistler says this season, 86 per cent of overnight visitors to the resort community are from B.C.

"Room nights from Quebec have represented two per cent of Whistler's total market share for overnight visitors," said communications manager Lauren Everest.

'Its nice to be on the West Coast,' said this man after arriving at YVR from Quebec. 'Wear the masks where necessary, keep your distance and do it safely,' he said. (Cory Correia/CBC)

In Whistler, an uptick in cases this winter has caused concern among locals.

Vancouver Coastal Health says there have been 702 cases of COVID-19 from Jan. 1 up until last week in the resort community. 

It's advising residents and visitors to avoid social gatherings, maintain physical distance when in public and follow all public health guidelines. 

With files from Cathy Kearney, Cory Correia and Andrea Ross