Teck signage in Elkford, BC. (Soranne Floarea / The Free Press)

Sparwood Mayor David Wilks: Teck has our back when it comes to COVID-19

Wilks said he had full confidence in Teck’s response to a cluster at its Elk Valley operations

Sparwood Mayor David Wilks has said he has faith in the ability of major local employer Teck to protect Elk Valley communities from the spread of COVID-19 at its operations.

“I feel much more confidence with Teck than I do with the Province,” he said.

“Teck has been very forthcoming with us, when they have a case they let us know.”

Late last week and earlier this week Teck has issued updates on a cluster of cases spread across three locations in the Elk Valley – the Fording River water treatment plant construction site, Fording River itself, and Elkview operations, with Interior Health declaring the cluster of 27 cases an outbreak on Wednesday Dec. 16.

Wilks has previously said he wanted provincial health authorities to be more forthcoming with information on local cases, saying they needed to “up their game” and alert communities in a more timely manner.

“We don’t want to know who it is, we don’t need to know who it is – we just want to know where it is,” he said. “Teck has been good with us on that.”

The province, said Wilks, had been failing on that front.

“They do it in Alberta, they do it in other provinces, where they can say there are ‘X’ amount of cases in (local communities).

“In fairness to the people of (local communities) they do need to know that there are cases in their community so it heightens their vigilance and heightens their awareness, and really that’s all we need it for – we don’t need anything else.”

Wilks said he had full confidence in Teck’s response so far.

“I think they’ve done their utmost,” he said.

Some of the enhanced protocols and preventative measures announced by Teck earlier this week include the mandatory use of C95 or KN95 respirators in indoor settings and work spaces for all employees, contractors and visitors and enhanced and increased screening of all individuals arriving on site at company operations.

The company also reported it would be “temporarily reducing the workforce at the Active Water Treatment facility construction site,” and would reduce occupancy at the Elk Valley Lodge contractor housing facility in Elkford.

READ MORE: Teck reports more new cases, enhanced protocols to stop spread of COVID-19

“They’ve done what they need to do, and let’s face is, they’ll keep open as long as they can because they’re a big engine for the province economically and for this region.”

Of the 27 cases reported at Teck operations, 15 are at the water treatment plant, eight cases are at Fording River and four cases are at Elkview, which is next to Sparwood.

Only 10 of the cases are residents of Interior Health – the other 17 are a mix of other BC residents and out-of-province contractors.

Two of the cases from IH are residents of Sparwood. Wilks said he wished them the best to get better soon, and back to work.

Last week, provincial health authorities reported there would be increased transparency in COVID-19 case reporting at a local level, with the number of cases within local health delivery areas now updated on a weekly basis, rather than monthly.

The local health area – Fernie – covers the South Country and all of the Elk Valley. Total cases are reported daily during the week, but broken down by regional health authorities.

READ MORE: Numbers rise at Teck operations: IH declares outbreak



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirusmunicipal politics

Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

The signs at the three entrances to Nelson were designed and carved by the late Art Waldie in 1968 and then replicated and replaced in 2001. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson’s welcome signs: have your say on the new design

Online ThoughtExchange process gathers opinions and sorts for common themes

Nelson’s Soundserious perform online May 15. Photo: Submitted
Nelson’s Soundserious want you to lighten up

The trio streams original music from the Capitol Theatre on May 15

Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Tom Thomson. Photo: Tyler Harper
NEWS AND VIEWS: Nelson’s Chamber helps businesses connect with new talent

Tom Thomson writes about an event scheduled for May 20

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

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 vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

Most Read