The safety of the community is on top of Mayor Mitch Campsall and other local officials’ minds as tree planters begin to arrive in the 100 Mile House area, after a month-long delay.
COVID-19 concerns have, as we all know by now, put a freeze or a complete halt on a wide range of activities throughout society and cost many their jobs. However, as restrictions are being lifted in B.C. that means seasonal work, like tree planting, is once more able to take place.
Campsall said that is the work of close to two months to try and figure out the issue of tree planters coming in, sometimes from across the country, into 100 Mile House. As 100 Mile has one of the largest demographic of seniors in the province and COVID-19 is especially deadly to the elderly, this was a big issue for him and local agencies to address. Eventually, through working with Interior Health and the Ministry of Forests, Campsall said they were able to come up with a solution to ensure the safety of everyone.
When tree planters enter B.C. they will have to go into a mandatory quarantine period of 15 days prior to beginning to work. Following this quarantine, they’ll be expected to stay at their camp or accommodations and appoint one or two individuals in charge of entering the community for food and fuel. This will be true for each camp in the area, while those staying in hotels will be monitored by security.
“From what we understand, from the forestry, if this is not strictly being abided by they will be fired. Let’s say somebody decides to come into town that will be their last day, they’ll be going home,” Campsall said. “It’s very serious and very strict.”
While Campsall said they don’t know the exact numbers of how many tree planters will be coming into the 100 Mile area, he said they know that roughly 15-million to 30-million trees will be planted in the area this summer. Throughout B.C. around 300-million tres are expected to be planted, he added.
Overall, Campsall is happy by the steps that have been taken to protect small communities like 100 Mile House but he said there will always be concern about the potential introduction of the virus into the community. While not excited, Campsall is happy that they’ve been able to do what he’s asked of them.
As far as he is aware, these restrictions will remain in place for the rest of 2020. He also encourages the community to report any infractions to either local government or the Ministry of Forestry, with as much information as possible.
“Keep following the rules. I know that we’re coming out of total lockdown but if you don’t need to go out, still don’t go out, keep your social distance,” Campsall advised the community. “We need to continue working with this, this is not gone away, it’s not going to go away. I believe that in your mind if you have the thought everyone has got it and treat it that way, you’ll be a lot safer. 100 Mile has done an incredible job of that, it’s why we’ve not had an outbreak because everyone has worked hard on this.”