A vehicle with an Alberta plate travels west along the Trans-Canada Highway through Salmon Arm on Thursday, March 26. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

COLUMN: Plate hate has no place in B.C.

B.C. transplant still drives with red plates, but hopes her car will be safe from COVID hate

Tensions are high as British Columbians have been cooped up for nearly three months in self-isolation while we all watched our “normal” disintegrate. But it wasn’t so bad, because “we are all in this together.”

Or at least that’s what was being said when this all started.

Now, the tune has changed for some.

As the province has embarked on its Restart Plan to reopen and ease restrictions, our leaders have made clear that non-essential travel should still be avoided. And as of late, it appears a few British Columbians have taken that message to heart.

So much so, they took it upon themselves to leave notes on cars with plates that didn’t match theirs.

In one case, a vehicle in Revelstoke was keyed as a result of its red plates.

The culprit was kind enough to leave a note telling him to “F**k off back to Alberta,” but the writer was cowardly enough to avoid leaving their contact info.

As a B.C. newcomer — albeit, that excuse is getting stale — I still have red plates.

When I first arrived to the province, I found myself in Kelowna. Never before have I been honked at so much or followed so closely.

I was warned this may happen as there is an unspoken rivalry between the two provinces — similar in feeling to that between the Flames and the Oilers. Instead, I chalked it up more so to the fact I was new to the area and was probably taking my sweet time navigating.

When I was relocated to Vernon, I quickly realized that perhaps Kelowna drivers were just crazy.

Just kidding…But I haven’t been honked at once since moving to Vernon, though. Interesting fact for comparison.

As the pandemic began closing businesses to the public, including insurance companies, and my red-plate expiry date loomed, I had to act quick.

But now, my provincial patriotism lies in the hands of Canada Post.

Luckily for me, since COVID-related incidents like the one in Revelstoke have been recorded, I have yet to experience anything like this personally, nor have I witnessed anything like this in Vernon.

Hopefully we can keep it that way.

Perhaps we can remember “we are all in this together.” Still, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues we should keep our fear-driven emotions at bay and off of other people’s windshields.

Amid these unprecedented times — boy, aren’t we tired of that phrase yet — we need to remember we don’t know anyone else’s full story, nor is it any of our business. We are incapable of fully understanding how our neighbours next door, literally and figuratively, are handling this crisis on a personal level.

So when you see that red, green or royal Ontario blue come through, remember, this could be someone coming to say their final goodbyes to a grandparent or loved one, or heading out to a remote job site benefiting the B.C. economy.

What may be essential travel for you may not match your neighbour’s definition, but you can rest assured every single Canadian wants COVID gone so we can resume our “normal” lives.

READ MORE: B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

READ MORE: Playgrounds to reopen across the Okanagan on June 1


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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