The Village of Queen Charlotte council convened on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 for a special meeting to discuss reopening Haida Gwaii, following Premier John Horgan’s release of the “restart B.C.” plan on May 6. (Karissa Gall/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Village of Queen Charlotte council meets to discuss eventual ‘reopening’ of Haida Gwaii

QC council convened for special meeting on May 12; Village of Port Clements council will meet May 14

The Village of Queen Charlotte council convened for a special meeting on Tuesday night to discuss plans for “reopening” Haida Gwaii.

At the meeting, Mayor Kris Olsen explained that the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) would like to make a statement that Haida Gwaii is closed to visitors for the season, following Premier John Horgan’s release of B.C.’s “restart plan” on May 6.

ALSO READ: B.C. prepares to restart more retail, services, offices in May

During Phase 2 of the restart plan, which begins mid-May with additional safety measures in place, Horgan said B.C. residents can look forward to small gatherings, dentistry, physiotherapy and other services, and most provincial parks reopened for day use starting May 14.

Non-essential travel is not recommended during phases 1 or 2 of the plan, however, Horgan said in late summer, when it is predicted that we will have moved into Phase 3, it might be safe to visit other communities.

ALSO READ: Selected B.C. parks set to open for day use May 14

In the interest of an island-wide decision, Olsen said the Island Protocol Table of community leaders had asked each leader to have a discussion with their councils about what their comfort level was with reopening.

Olsen also said he had been hearing from local business operators, especially tour operators, that want to know “a solid date” because they have contractual obligations to consider if Haida Gwaii does not reopen to visitors at all this season.

ALSO READ: Business return up to managers, customers, Dr. Henry says

During the discussion, councillor Richard Decembrini said he “can’t see this going all season unless there’s money available for everybody.”

Councillor Lisa Pineault pointed out that if tourists are allowed to come to Haida Gwaii later in the season, such as in July or August, but still required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to the islands, that would not work for the limited vacation time of most people.

Pineault also said she would like more time to discuss the issue with local residents and businesses.

Chief administrative officer Lori Wiedeman told the Observer that council decided to let the CHN know it would be comfortable with a delayed reopening compared to others parts of the province, and continuing to observe the state of local emergency enacted by the CHN on March 23 until at least the end of June.

“Hopefully what that will do is allow our council enough time to get out and consult,” Wiedeman said.

She also noted that council’s decision at the special meeting “might not be the final decision.”

“We’ll have to see what all the other councils think,” she said.

“There are still a lot of unknowns for everybody in this.”

At the time of publication, the Village of Port Clements had also publicized a committee of the whole meeting scheduled for May 14 at 6 p.m. to discuss B.C.’s restart plan.

More to come.

ALSO READ: Indigenous tourism being ignored by federal government, B.C. operators say

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusQueen Charlotte

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay wins ‘Most Outstanding School’ award

B.C. School Sports will present school with banner, add GTN to plaque as winners of 2019-2020 year

‘A time of transition:’ CHN looking to release next steps of pandemic response this week

State of local emergency is in effect; Gaagwiis says CHN developing indicators to guide next steps

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach urges feds to compensate airline passengers

Letter to transport minister touches on Northwest B.C. tourism operators impacted by COVID-19

Two new bridges to be built along Highway 16 between Port Clements, Tlell

Ministry of Transportation says $5.4-million project expected to be complete in fall 2020

‘Now Is the Time’ doc will start streaming on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Film featuring Haida carver Robert Davidson will launch June 21 for free on NFB website

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

Most Read