The mayor of an Okanagan community is worried people are slipping in their vigilance to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 and would like to make masks mandatory in her municipality.
Cindy Fortin, mayor of Peachland, said it's time the province gave municipalities back some power over how they look after their residents during the pandemic.
Fortin says she is "frustrated and really worried" about some of the lackadaisical behaviour she is witnessing in her district — such as a lack of face masks and physical distancing — compared to what she saw at the onset of the pandemic.
In order to enforce the wearing of masks in public, Fortin said the District of Peachland would have to declare a local state of emergency and create a bylaw.
But on a recent bi-weekly phone call with other B.C. mayors and representatives from the province, Fortin was told that any municipal states of emergency were overridden when the B.C. government declared a provincewide state of emergency in March.
"I think it's time to let the community leaders take a little bit more charge of what they do in their communities," Fortin said Monday on CBC's Radio West.
Call for more case specifics
Fortin would also like the province to be more forthcoming about the exact location where people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are living. She believes this will prevent people from thinking the virus is something abstract that is happening elsewhere.
"When they can't actually hear that it is happening in their own backyard, then they don't seem to feel as affected by it or see it as urgent," said Fortin, adding how worrying it was to see an outbreak stemming from events around Canada Day in nearby Kelowna.
She said even as a mayor, she is not provided with that specific information.
"I think we should know so we can make sure our residents are informed because when people are informed they make better decisions," said Fortin.
As a former nurse, Fortin said she started wearing a mask in February when she realized how serious the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could become.
She said she has asked the provincial government what their backup plan is if things take a turn for the worse in B.C., but has not received a straight answer.
As for those in her community who consider the virus to be a hoax or conspiracy, Fortin asks them to consider what the logic would be behind making people and the global economy suffer.
"Leave the politics out of it and wear the mask," said the mayor.