Travel restrictions cause problems for Adaptive Sports Sun Peaks

SPMRM supports lobbying upper levels of government to allow foreign homeowners into Canada

File photo

Adaptive Sports Sun Peaks (ASSP) is facing the prospect of losing its principal trainers this winter, unless the Canadian government changes its travel restrictions. 

Veronica and Neil Connors have been volunteering with the program for over ten years and play a key role in its operation. 

The couple is certified to train instructors via the Canadian Adaptive Snowsports (CADS), a national, non-profit, volunteer-based organization dedicated to assisting individuals enjoy the freedom and therapeutic benefits of skiing and snowboarding. 

Retired, they live in Australia but spend their winters in Sun Peaks.

“Neil and I are the only ones that have the certification to deliver those certifications from the course,” explained Veronica. “So if we don’t come, it means that the national body has to provide course conductors to come from another program somewhere in Canada to run our instructor training courses.” 

Veronica said while that can certainly be done, it’s a strain on resources. 

Just last year, the Connors trained 40 new volunteer instructors for level one certification, as well as another 35 to instruct people with autism. 

“There’s now a huge percentage of our current instructors who have their level two CADS autism certification,” she said, adding that a few went on to get their visual impairment teaching certification.

Canada’s federal government has not indicated any timeline for allowing foreign homeowners to return to Canada, and the country continues to keep its doors shut to most foreign tourists. 

Several emergency orders from the federal government specifically ban foreigners from entering Canada unless their travel is considered essential (such as for school or work), or they have direct family in the country. 

People who do enter the country are required to complete a 14-day self-quarantine. 

Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality’s council has voiced its support for foreign owners looking to re-enter the country.

During a Sept. 1 special council meeting, they passed a resolution instructing staff to send a letter of support to upper levels of government to support a phased opening of the borders or a system that would allow foreign second homeowners or those that regularly spend long periods of time in the community to return. They also discussed contacting member of parliament Cathy McLeod to support the homeowners. 

“When the government begins the phased opening of our borders, I hope that foreign property owners will be among the first groups permitted access to Canada,” said mayor Al Raine, in an email to SPIN.

“About 17 per cent of Sun Peaks properties are owned by non-Canadians and they are an important part of our community both economically and socially. We are grateful for their presence and their contributions to Sun Peaks,” he continued. 

With no announcements on when a phased opening might take place, many businesses and organizations are sure to be impacted. 

Jenny Hawes, program manager for ASSP, said the Connors play an essential role with the organization and that they aren’t the only ones who may be absent this year. 

She said a large cohort of the organization’s volunteers are from overseas, are retired, and give back to the community through the organization. 

“Many [of our volunteers] are retired and love to give back to the community,” she said. “We will keep our fingers crossed that things will loosen up for people who own property in Sun Peaks.” 

Joel Barde is a reporter hired by SPIN with funding from the Local Journalism Initiative, a federal program created to support “original civic journalism that covers the diverse needs of underserved communities across Canada.”