Main Beach in Cultus Lake Park on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Main Beach in Cultus Lake Park on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Cultus Lake Park Board chair and CAO criticized for Mexico travel in November

Both men admit vacations but trips were before Dr. Bonnie Henry’s stronger advisory against travel

A number of residents of Cultus Lake are upset that two members of park board leadership vacationed in Mexico before Christmas.

The issue of municipal, provincial and federal politicians travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic has been controversial for several weeks, as there have been a wide range of changing travel recommendations and prohibitions.

A Victoria city councillor apologized for the “poor choice” he made to travel to East Africa over the holidays, and the mayor of Castlegar resigned after it was discovered he travelled to his Okanagan cabin over the holidays.

READ MORE: Castlegar mayor resigns amid criticism for holiday trip to Okanagan cabin

When asked by The Chilliwack Progress, both elected Cultus Lake Park Board (CLPB) chair David Renwick and former park board member and current chief administrative officer Joe Lamb admitted they were in Mexico in November.

Neither apologized for the travel despite recommendations against travel from public health officials.

“There is no prohibition against travel; local, national nor international,” Renwick said via email. “I have personal reasons for being away. Best regards.”

Lamb said something similar.

“As there were and are no public health orders [Editor: emphasis his] regarding international travel I went to Mexico on vacation during that time frame,” he said via email. “I followed the emergency Orders under the Quarantine Act when I returned.

“David and I did not travel together.”

Both men travelled in November, but before Nov. 19 when the stricter measures were put in place by Dr. Bonnie Henry regarding public gathering and travel, which included an “advisory” that “all non-essential travel should be avoided.”

The Cultus Lake residents upset about the travel declined to be named, insisting on anonymity fearing repercussions for speaking out.

“They are our leaders,” one resident told The Progress. “We are a little choked about this.”

Given some of the problems and controversies at the lake, including a lawsuit over the sewer system, some have suggested travelling to Mexico was not only a bad idea because of public health order but because there is work to be done.

Mayor Ken Popove and all City of Chilliwack council members were similarly asked about their travel over the holiday season.

Popove sent a statement saying he’s been acting in accordance with provincial health recommendations by opting not to travel anywhere outside of the Lower Mainland since Dec. 18.

The mayor’s email was in response to queries about any holiday travel taken by Chilliwack council members posed by The Progress.

“I also postponed Christmas travel and family get-together plans in accordance with the orders and recommendations from Dr. Henry,” Popove said. “My wife and I typically spend every Christmas in Sun Peaks, but this year we chose to stay home and cancelled our annual trip.”

City councillors Sue Knott, Jason Lum, Bud Mercer and Jeff Shields confirmed, when asked, that they did not travel over the Christmas break, said city spokesperson Jamie Leggatt.

Couns. Christ Kloot and Harv Westeringh did not respond when first asked by Jan. 7, but in a follow-up question both responded on Jan. 13 saying they stayed close to home, only enjoying some outdoor activities with close family.

RELATED: Mayor grilled about trip to U.S. in March

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