Vancouver Sun

Con­cern bor­ders on amuse­ment at B.C.Al­berta bound­ary

- CH­ERYL CHAN chchan@post­ twit­ Canada News · Alberta · British Columbia · John Horgan · Rachel Notley · Twitter · Calgary · Vancouver · Colombia · New Democratic Party (Canada) · Montana · Crowsnest Pass · Cranbrook · Canada · Taft, Montana · Invermere · Radium Hot Springs · Banff

As the bat­tle of wills be­tween the B.C. and Al­berta gov­ern­ments over pipe­lines and rosés heats up, towns near the B.C-Al­berta border are keep­ing a wary, if amused, eye on the es­ca­lat­ing spat.

Gerry Taft, mayor of In­ver­mere, said most of the re­ac­tion he’s heard from res­i­dents about the on­go­ing tit-for-tat be­tween B.C. Premier John Hor­gan and Al­berta Premier Rachel Not­ley are tongue-in-cheek, with hash­tags like #mar­chon­fer­nie and #bcre­sis­tance pop­ping up on his Twit­ter feed and jok­ing talk about Al­berta’s bid to re­claim ter­ri­tory in south­east­ern B.C. by “mak­ing Al­berta rec­tan­gle again.”

“Peo­ple are ex­ag­ger­at­ing what politi­cians have said and are run­ning with it,” said Taft.

“My gut feel­ing is that most reg­u­lar peo­ple are not tak­ing it se­ri­ously.”

Many B.C. border towns, in­clud­ing In­ver­mere, Ra­dium Hot Springs, and Golden, have strong com­mer­cial or tourism ties with Al­berta.

Ge­o­graph­i­cally closer to Cal­gary than Van­cou­ver, the re­gion op­er­ates on a dif­fer­ent time zone from the rest of B.C. — Moun­tain time is re­ferred to as “Al­berta time.”

Many Al­ber­tans have va­ca­tion homes in In­ver­mere, said Taft, and are con­sid­ered part-time res­i­dents who vol­un­teer and con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity, while many In­ver­mere res­i­dents drive to Banff or Cal­gary, three hours away, to shop, va­ca­tion or fly out of the air­port.

With Al­berta’s Fam­ily Day week­end — tra­di­tion­ally a busy week­end for the Koote­nays and Columbia Val­ley — com­ing up, the busi­ness com­mu­nity is hop­ing for a quick res­o­lu­tion to the dis­pute be­tween the two NDP gov­ern­ments.

“We are con­cerned about this,” said Su­san Clove­chok, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Columbia Val­ley Cham­ber of Com­merce. “Al­berta is our largest mar­ket” in terms of tourism, and the re­gion’s pop­u­la­tion ex­plodes from 9,500 res­i­dents to 40,000 dur­ing the busy tourist sea­son.

At least one Koote­nay tourism op­er­a­tor has re­ceived a can­cel­la­tion from Al­berta clients who said they’ll go to Mon­tana in­stead.

A hockey team from Al­berta that was sched­uled to come to B.C. for a tour­na­ment has also pulled out.

Clove­chok doesn’t want to see a boy­cott gain mo­men­tum as any can­cel­la­tions, es­pe­cially dur­ing the long week­end, can neg­a­tively af­fect small busi­nesses’ bot­tom line.

“We are not a com­mu­nity along the pipe­line,” she said. “We have no di­rect in­flu­ence, but our com­mu­ni­ties and our fam­i­lies could end up pay­ing the price.”

Golden Mayor Ron Oszust said he was “quite shocked” at Not­ley’s move to ban B.C. wine: “It’s un­for­tu­nate that it es­ca­lated.”

But he’s con­fi­dent the po­lit­i­cal war won’t trans­late into a di­rect hit to his small com­mu­nity, a gate­way to the Rock­ies towns of Banff and Jasper.

“We’re in the mid­dle of six na­tional parks. We have lots of peo­ple com­ing for down­hill ski­ing, heliski­ing, snow­mo­bil­ing, I don’t see that much of an im­pact here.”

On the other side of the border, Blair Painter, mayor of Crowsnest Pass, said he’s heard peo­ple agree with the wine boy­cott, and pos­si­bly more.

“Peo­ple are say­ing that’s some­thing I can sup­port. I’m not go­ing to buy B.C. wine if they don’t want to take our prod­uct,” he said.

If a trade war erupts be­tween Al­berta and B.C., Painter thinks B.C. has more to lose. The im­pact to his com­mu­nity will be minimal, said Painter. Crowsnest Pass, which is made up of five com­mu­ni­ties, does not see a lot of tourists from B.C.

But there’s plenty of Al­ber­tans who head west for re­cre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties. “I heard peo­ple say they won’t be do­ing that any­more, and that they’ll spend the money in Al­berta,” he said. “But talk is talk. We’ll see what hap­pens.

“I’m re­ally dis­ap­pointed it would come down to where we are to­day,” he added.

David Hull, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cran­brook Cham­ber of Com­merce, said Hor­gan and Not­ley should stop their po­lit­i­cal pos­tur­ing and called on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to re­solve the is­sue.

While he doesn’t see the pipe­line war de­vel­op­ing into a ma­jor eco­nomic bat­tle be­tween the two prov­inces, Hull said it paints Canada as a na­tion which “can’t even get our poop in a group.”

“Dis­putes like this don’t move the econ­omy for­ward and it doesn’t bode well on the lo­cal, pro­vin­cial and in­ter­na­tional stage,” said Hull. “There’s just go­ing to be losers out of this.”

 ??  ?? Gerry Taft
Gerry Taft

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