Thursday, October 29, 2020

Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce throws it's support towards Stewart/Hyder 'Bear Bubble'

Residents of Stewart and Hyder, Alaska continue to ask
Ottawa to relax COVID related travel restrictions to allow
the two communities to create their own bubble area

The ongoing calls for a bit of common sense from Federal officials when it comes to allowing Stewart/Hyder residents to create their own version of the 'safe six' has found some help from Prince Rupert, with the local Chamber of Commerce writing a letter of support towards what has been called the "Bear Bubble"

As we first outlined in August, the 'Bear Bubble" COVID-19 plan would allow Hyder residents to expand their travels in and out their neighbouring community of Stewart,  which the Alaskans rely on for a number of services from shopping to schooling to name a few.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach has been a strong advocate for the request and has taken their request to Bill Blair  the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, but so far, the silence from Ottawa has been noticeable with little indication that the Stewart gates will reopen for their American neighbours.

In a letter of support for the Stewart/Hyder group from the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce, Chamber President Michelle Boomars-MacNeil, provides some personal anecdotes from 1987/88 when she lived in the Stewart area to highlight the connection the two communities have.

She also notes that the Chamber is supportive of measures that reduce the risk of COVID-19, they believe that a request for relaxation of some of the measures would alleviate the unique burdens the two communities are facing at this time.

"At this point in the pandemic, we are all quite aware of the emotional and mental impacts of separation from family, friends and neighbours. As we are now firmly in the second wave of this pandemic, these concerns will continue to grow. Now more than ever, we need to recognize unique situations such as the Hyder/Stewart border are separate from the larger border issues at play, and more about family and firends and compassion. The support systems in place here are trans-border and have been for decades"

You can review the full letter to the Minister below:

The Alaskans have also been reaching out to their own elected officials to try to help get the message out to the Canadian government, with a collective including the Governor and the current roster of American Senators and Congressmen signing a three page letter addressed to the Prime Minister, calling on Ottawa to grant the exemption for Hyder residents to be part of the travel bubble.

More background on the efforts to allow the Hyder residents access to Stewart and its services can be found from their Social media forums.

More notes on the issue can be found from our House of Commons archive page.

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