Kelowna RCMP has since announced they will be increasing patrols at Big White, after resort management called for help to deal with the lack of compliance with public health orders in the area.
Despite requests by resort management, the RCMP will not be stationing additional police officers at Big White Ski Resort to help with enforcement of public health guidelines.
Instead, it will continue to send officers to the resort municipality from Kelowna — nearly an hour-long trip — on a call-by-call basis.
On Tuesday (Dec. 15), resort management called for enforcement at the resort, saying it’s difficult to combat violations with no body of enforcement close by.
Big White Ski Resort vice president of operations Michael Ballingall said at least two RCMP members should be stationed permanently at the resort.
“We’re asking for support between now and early January, and re-assess after that. But certainly, it’s important that we try to get some help now… I don’t want to enter into the world of proper policing, but minimum two (officers).”
He added that ‘Christmas is coming’ and that people will soon start to arrive from ‘all over’ the Central Okanagan.
”In any given year, there are parties, there’s loud music… We don’t have anyone up here that can tell people not to do that,” he said.
Later that day, a COVID-19 cluster was declared at the ski resort, something Interior Health (IH) attributed to shared housing and social gatherings.
So far there have been 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the community.
The RCMP has since declined Ballingall’s request for additional resources. Asked if they would dedicate officers to patrol and enforce COVID-19 health guidelines at the resort, Kelowna RCMP said not at this time.
“Staffing and the allocation of our resources is an ongoing discussion with our community and partners. At this time, we do not have an officer permanently assigned to the resort of Big White,” said RCMP Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy.
However she said an RCMP does regularly patrol the area as part of their regular duties, and officers are scheduled to work shifts there during peak season.
Noseworthy encouraged the Big White community to reach out to the RCMP if they have concerns.
“If we receive a complaint of a loud party or a situation that is potentially in violation of the criminal code, provincial acts, bylaws, or the provincial health orders, we will investigate that incident,” she said.
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