British Columbia border town struggles without Albertan during a pandemic

Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to be hit by a double wormy this year at her restaurant in a small community in the field just west of the Alberta-British Columbia border.

Coffman has been running the Truffle Pigs Bistro and Lodge for the past 12 years.

The field, with a population of just under 200, lies along the Trans-Canada Highway, about 10 km from the Alberta border, and is heavily dependent on tourism.

Coffman closed for several months as COVID-19 seriously cut off foreign visits last year. She expected the situation to improve this year. But things are getting tougher again as the British Columbia government asks not to travel to the state as the section near Trans-Canada is closed for construction this spring and fall and the pandemic continues. I will.

“I’m continuing to return to Monty Python (the movie scene).” I’m not dead yet, “the man cut off all his arms and legs,” Koffman said.

“I don’t know how many legs and arms I can cut before closing and taking a deep breath and raising the gear when it’s time.”

Albertan accounted for about 80% of the business last year and about 50% before the pandemic, Coffman said.

“We are very dependent on the Calgarian, especially through this. Albertin is a very big part of why we survive,” Koffman said.

“Last summer was okay. I thought,” I have to count my lucky stars. I can stay open. “But … this second is difficult. “

A BC RCMP spokeswoman said the boundaries were not technically closed and there were no check stops.

“There are no restrictions that prevent people from coming from Alberta,” said Sergeant Staff. Janelle Shoiet.

“If people come from Alberta and travel to a healthy area, they need to stay in that healthy area and can’t go any further.”

Shoihet said travel within BC must be considered essential.

“Don’t come to our state. Stay in your own state unless it’s for an essential trip.

“I’m at home. We love you, but stay at home.”

Fernie, a picturesque resort town in southeastern British Columbia, is less than an hour from the border and hopes Albertan will come again this summer.

Brad Purcell, Secretary-General of the Ferney Chamber of Commerce, says the community relies on Alberta visitors.

“Furney should be in Alberta for all intents and purposes. We are clearly dependent on Alberta in the tourism industry, but in our economy as a whole,” he says. I did.

“Currently, it is very difficult for the tourism industry not to provide welcome mats to these people.”

According to Purcell, visits from Alberta probably make up 70-80 percent of the total business.

“It’s a huge chunk … sure,” Parcel said.

“This is not just an arbitrary number. These are people’s lives and their lives.”

Ferney Hotel and Pub’s business is still slow, but manager Alicia Dennis said some of it could be due to bad weather and indoor dining restrictions.

She said visitors from Alberta and Saskatchewan were a blessing of salvation last summer.

“I’ve definitely noticed a surge in the number of people in Saskatchewan and Alberta coming here for vacation. It was arguably one of the busiest summers I’ve ever seen.”

In Montana, the closure of the Canadian-US border is damaging the economy of Browning, the town of the Blackfoot Indian Reservation.

“Most of the local casino revenue comes from the people of Lethbridge (Alta) because we are a border town adjacent to the Canadian border,” said spokesman James McNeely. I will.

“I think Montana has been affected to some extent by the shortage of Canadian visitors. I can’t see those plates anymore.”