With all provincial recreation sites closed, a private campground has sprung up near Coalmont. (Photo contributed)

With all provincial recreation sites closed, a private campground has sprung up near Coalmont. (Photo contributed)

Long weekend vacationers flood to rural Princeton, cause stir for government, RCMP

RDOS director says local government’s hands are tied; “This is provincial issue”

Emotions are running high in rural Princeton this long weekend, as a surge of holiday visitors creates stress for residents, politicians and police.

“What the hell are these people doing here?” asked Bob Coyne, Area H director for the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS).

“The federal government has asked them to stay at home. The province has asked them to stay at home. What is wrong with these people?”

Coyne was responding to numerous reports of vacationers in Tulameen, Coalmont and other recreation spots in the area.

“People are moving around and they shouldn’t be,” he said.

Spike of visitors to Princeton-area stressing grocery supply chain and healthcare teams

One situation that sparked a firestorm of social media complaints Friday involves a makeshift campground, located on private property adjacent to a provincial recreation site near Coalmont which was shut down under provincial order.

Police visited the property and found approximately nine trailers, according to Princeton RCMP Sergeant Rob Hughes.

“It’s private property….Yes, the people broke the public health order about non-essential travel. They are practicing social distancing and the information will be forwarded to the provincial health office on Tuesday.”

RCMP do not have the authority to make arrests or recommend charges under the circumstances, he said.

Hughes explained that in some jurisdictions police are able to ticket offenders under municipal or city bylaws, however there are no such bylaws in Princeton or the RDOS.

Related: Law enforcement will patrol shuttered campgrounds in Cascades this weekend

Coyne said the local government’s hands are tied.

“There is nothing we can do. This is a provincial issue.”

However he’s inundated with calls from concerned residents.

“All I can do is be a sounding board. I get people phoning me and stopping me just to rant. You do your best to listen to people. That’s all I can do.”

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