As Sun Peaks Resort begins to welcome back visitors, Mayor Al Raine believes those in the community have behaved “very well” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some amenities at Sun Peaks have already reopened, including the golf course — which two weeks ago welcomed members and opened fully on June 26 — and the chairlift, which opened on June 26 to season pass holders and will open to the general public on June 29.
Restaurants have also been given the blessing of the municipality to encroach out into village streets to allow for easier physical distancing.
With the province’s entry into phase 3 of the economic reopening amid the ongoing pandemic, some hotels have also resumed operations and others will open over the next week.
“Things are happening and there definitely are more people about. It’s still very quiet compared to a normal year,” Raine said.
The resort has placed limits on the number of season passes sold for the bike park this year. Those passes sold out on June 25. It will also limit the number of lift tickets sold each day for hiking and biking, but those looking for a walk or a ride can buy tickets in advance online to ensure they won’t be turned away.
Day tickets can be purchased online at sunpeaksresort.com, with bookings available until the lift closes in September.
Among the activities that will not be available this year are the mountain cross go-carts, the bungee trampoline and the Tod Mountain Mining Co. kids’ activity.
Raine said he is pleased with how the community has handled the pandemic.
“I think the community has a good attitude,” he said. “I had the odd call about Alberta [licence] plates, but I said, ‘I think those people live here.’”
Raine also noted there were a number of American guests who decided to stay in the community after the ski season, preferring to remain in Sun Peaks rather than return to hot spot areas in the United States.
But Sun Peaks did see cases fairly early on, when COVID-19 began to spread in B.C. On March 21, the municipality sent out a press release confirming a person had tested positive and there were other presumptive cases. It was one of few communities in the province to confirm the virus’ presence.
Raine said the release of the news wasn’t his decision — the news came from the doctor who tested positive — but he said he was a “strong supporter” of that decision.
“I think it was very valuable for the community because it did give a real awakening. I think prior to that, there may have been a feeling in the community that Sun Peaks is a quiet little place up at the end of the road and there’s no coronavirus up there. But nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.
Raine said with the number of international visitors the resort has, “we could easily become a hot spot because of [that].”
Raine said he appreciates the position of B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry of not revealing exactly where cases of COVID-19 have occurred, but said doing so is a “two-edged sword.” “When you hear folks say that we do have a couple of cases, that does put people on full alert and go ‘I really have to pay attention here.’ I think that was helpful for Sun Peaks,” he said.