Recreational vehicles at the Surfside RV Resort, as seen from Parksville Community Park, on April 26. (Mandy Moraes photo)

Snowbirds flying away after a winter spent in the mid-Island instead of the U.S.

Travel restrictions brought more people to Island RV parks, new restrictions pushing them away

The snowbirds are beginning to fly away.

On the advice of the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnsworth, issued a new order prohibiting non-essential travel between the three regional health zones in B.C., as an attempt to further curb the transmission of COVID-19. This order came into effect on April 23 and will stay in effect until May 25.

Susan Lafauci of Parksville’s Paradise Fun Park said before April 23, their RV park was completely booked up for May long weekend. Since the new order came into effect, they’ve had to call customers back and cancel reservations.

“So that took care of a lot of people. And we have bookings for pretty much the whole summer, but if this carries on things are going to get worse,” she said. “If they’re on the Island, we’ve said they can still come because that’s what we understood.”

According to Lafauci, Paradise Fun Park was open over the winter, something they hadn’t done before, for snowbirds already on Vancouver Island who said they couldn’t go home. Of their 30 open sites, they have had approximately 14 ‘off-Island’ visitors stay.

“In a normal year with no COVID, we get people from all over,” she said.

READ MORE: Camping close to home still permitted under B.C. travel ban: Henry

Shawn Bennett, the general manager of Parksville’s Surfside RV Resort, said they haven’t accepted reservations from visitors north of Qualicum or south of Nanaimo for weeks.

Through most of the winter, however, he said they were full of snowbirds. Since the beginning of April, however, many of them left when the business switched over from off-season rates to ‘shoulder’ season rates. Many of which, Bennett said, were already there for the six-month maximum stay.

“We follow the city bylaw of maximum 180 days. But that said, some of them did extend and we let them for two weeks. Most of them were exiting April 1 but we had, say a dozen people, leave just prior to April 15. And now we’ve had three people that were concerned about not being able to get off the Island when they needed to… they figured it would be too risky for May long weekend.”

They have had people from within B.C. stay through the winter, as part of the snowbird population.

“And that’s people from the Lower Mainland, from the interior, and all these people that are typically going somewhere south of the border from October through April,” he said.

The president and CEO of Tourism Vancouver Island, Anthony Everett, confirmed there are normally plenty of snowbirds in Parksville Qualicum Beach, and perhaps more so in 2020/21 due to travel restrictions.

“Having said that though, anybody already here is still subject to those orders. The advisory used strong language around staying local, staying where you are. And then if you do need to travel, that it’s within your health area – in our case, that’s the Island.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

mandy.moraes@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

CampingParksvillequalicum beachRVs

Just Posted

Nurses at the Cowichan District Hospital are thanking the community for following the health protocols during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured from left are nurses Jacqueline Kendall, Melissa Bustard and Heidi Ferris. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Pandemic year like no other, Cowichan nurses say

May 10-16 is National Nursing Week

Island Health’s new Wellness and Recovery Centre at 5878 York Rd. is now planned to be open in the fall. (File photo)
Wellness and Recovery Centre now to open in the fall

Three community dialogues scheduled for May

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Before you take on a pet, make sure you want to have it for life. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Editorial: A pet is a lifetime commitment

Tons of people are getting pets during the pandemic, some for the first time

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Most Read