The ‘Gateway to Holidayland’ sign in the Rambo franchise’ first film, First Blood. (Youtube screenshot)

The ‘Gateway to Holidayland’ sign in the Rambo franchise’ first film, First Blood. (Youtube screenshot)

Hope had no say in being left out of Lower Mainland zone amid COVID restrictions: Mayor

Hope acts as a geographical gateway to the rest of the province

There will be no heads up from the RCMP on where checkpoints could be in and around Hope.

That was confirmed by Hope Mayor Peter Robb, who said even he doesn’t have knowledge of where any potential checkpoints would be on the highways.

“They are not pre-announcing the locations,” he said, and was told so on a recent mayors’ call with Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

Geographically, Hope acts as a gateway to the rest of the province. In fact, for decades a large wooden archway hung over Old Princeton Way that stated: Gateway to Holidayland. (That sign was included in Rambo, which was filmed in Hope.)

Almost all traffic must funnel through the town to access the rest of the province, on Highways 1, 3 and 5. And last week it was announced that Hope would not be included in the same travel zone as the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland. Instead, Hope has been lumped in with the Interior travel zone.

Hope residents are permitted to travel into Chilliwack for necessities, and there are exemptions in place for travel related to work, school and medical appointments.

But non-essential, recreational travel can result in a fine of $575.

Farnworth has confirmed that RCMP will be conducting traffic checks to ensure people comply with travel orders to stay within their own travel zones. And ideally, the government has said, everyone will remain in their own communities for the next few weeks.

That has left many Hope residents wondering where the checkpoints will be, and whether they will be pulled over travelling back and forth to neighbouring communities such as Agassiz, Chilliwack, and even Manning Park. There have not been any stops between Chilliwack and Hope this week so far, but messaging on the digital road signs advise restrictions are in place until May 25.

Robb said having Hope cut off from the cities to the west is being seen as a good thing for Hope.

“A few people have talked to me about it, and they are in favour of it,” he said. “They don’t want people from down the valley coming here.”

He says the municipality didn’t have any input into the decision, and that he found out through the media, just like everyone else.

But all travel restrictions aside, he said, the more important issue for residents of Hope is to go out and get vaccinated. As of Monday, the vaccination rate in the province was sitting at just above 43 per cent. The Standard has requested more localized vaccination numbers from Fraser Health.

There is a vaccination clinic every Thursday at the Hope Legion that can accomodate 200 people in just one day. The clinic at the hospital has the capacity to vaccinate 50 people a day.

“I want to encourage more people to go and get it done,” he said, so that life can once again carry on in Hope.

READ MORE: B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone


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