by Andru McCracken

Valemount Mayor Owen Torgerson just happened to be driving by the clinic when he saw a truck, trailer and sleds getting attention from paramedics at the Valemount
Health Clinic. He noted it with disappointment.

While the pull of the backcountry is strong, Torgerson asks people to resist because of the repercussions for local health infrastructure in this rural remote area.

“People are concerned and rightfully so. We all know if an outbreak happened here, we don’t have the medical capacity to combat that,” he said.

Torgerson asks sledders, second-home owners and visitors to stay at their primary residence and out of the mountains.

He said people justify backcountry adventures because of its vastness.

“I’m in the backcountry, so I’m socially distancing myself,” he said. “In that case it didn’t happen.”

“This is not the time to visit your second home. Don’t leave the city. It has vastly better medical capacity and resources.”

There are lots of opportunities for people to transmit the virus – even without knowing it – to local people at gas stations and while getting food, he pointed out.

Torgerson drove to the snowmobile areas to see for himself how many people were there: one had three trucks; the other was empty. He preferred the latter.

“We’ll see you next year,” he said.