By Andru McCracken

Mayor Eugene Runtz said his community’s appeals for visitors and snowmobilers to stay away have worked, for the most part.

“The odd ones are still coming,” said Runtz.

The village gave notice to all out of town visitors on March 23 that it was not the time to visit.

“One weekend we had 150 sledders here. It was the biggest weekend for the entire year,” he said. “This is dangerous for us. We were distancing. They weren’t distancing.”

Runtz understands how difficult the message was to get at first.

“To be fair, they hadn’t gone through anything like this,” he said. “They didn’t understand, they thought, ‘We know what is going on back home, but how would the virus get here?’ I had to tell them ‘from you guys!'”

Runtz said it is amazing to the extent that people have been able to follow the provincial health officer’s orders.

“We’re human beings, and we’re not used to this stuff. Everything that makes us human beings, it goes against what we are having to do right now.”

He’s looking forward to when things open back up, but still has big concerns for his community as that happens.

“Holy smokes are we ever taking huge risks in a town like McBride that has an old population,” he said.

That being said, Runtz knows how people in his community are suffering due to the lockdown, especially small business.

“We didn’t need this economically. I’m really worried about all of our businesses,” he said.

He said it seems like many businesses have been unable to take advantage of government programs to date.

“I’m not so sure the village shouldn’t step in and help out and provide information on what is vailable to the public,” he said. “I’m mulling what to do about this.

Runtz is originally an American and says he’s happy to be in Canada.

“You’ve got to feel awful good about (this) country doing what it is doing right now,” he said. “What a fantastic country.”