Gold River has joined the list of remote Vancouver Island communities ready to welcome visitors as B.C. starts reopening.
The North Island village has announced it is ready for other Vancouver Islanders as long as they follow safety protocols and continue with social distancing.
Visitors are also asked to be mindful of the neighbouring Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation’s wishes. The Mowachaht-Muchalaht will maintain closures of popular tourist spots such as Friendly Cove and limit access to the boat launch that connects visitors to the Muchalat Inlet and Nootka Sound.
According to Mayor Brad Unger, Gold River was “technically never closed,” although it had requested visitors to be mindful and stay away to minimize spread of COVID-19. Within the community, shops and recreational facilities such as the pool have been closed for almost two months and tourism activities placed on hold.
As a coastal community reliant on summer tourism, small businesses will suffer huge losses, said Unger. He is thankful the community began diversifying its economy years ago.
“We can’t be dependent on just one industry,” said Unger referring to the lesson the village learned when its mill closed two decades ago.
Logging, aquaculture, tourism and other industries have contributed to Gold River’s economy since.
The town is also looking into plans to attract more investors in future to strengthen local economy and “create more jobs,” said Unger.
Unger said more people have been moving to Gold River this past decade due to affordable property rates, favourable business and community support.