With the NDP’s moving of BC’s Family Day to coincide with the Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Montana holiday for 2019, Fernie residents will have to contend with the busiest weekend of the year.
Last week the provincial government announced it would be shifting BC’s Family Day in 2019 to align with the rest of the country and the US. “Moving Family Day is the right thing to do for businesses small and large, and is better for families who may be spread out across the country,” said Premier John Horgan in a release. “This gives families an opportunity to schedule and spend more time with loved ones from other provinces.”
The out-of-province holiday weekend has been the busiest weekend of the season in Fernie for several years. It might have been better for Fernie residents if the NDP had moved BC Family Day to Christmas day.
Tom Shyptika, MLA for Kootenay East, said, “the NDP’s lack of consultation on the decision is a slap in the face to the people and businesses in the East Kootenays.”
“A few years ago the government allowed a vote as to what weekend BC residents wanted as family day”, recalled Mary Giuliano, City of Fernie Mayor. “The vote was in favour of a separate weekend. This has proven to work well economically as resort communities especially have benefitted from having visitors fill up rooms and restaurants on two occasions instead of having to turn visitors away. It’s very disappointing that this decision was reversed without considering the negative impact on ski resort towns.”
“This will make our busiest weekend of the year even busier, and will not result in increased room-night sales because we’re already full,” explained Jikke Gyorki, Executive Officer of Tourism Fernie. “Having our holiday on another weekend spread the demand, allowed BC residents to find lodging and was great for the guest experience.”
The separate BC Family Day weekend brought in between $7 million and $10 million in incremental spending at ski destinations across the province according to the Canada West Ski Areas Association.
Furthermore, having a separate date for BC Family Day allowed British Columbians to get out and enjoy outdoor recreational opportunities without the hordes of out-of-province visitors the following weekend. Locally it meant hotels and outdoor activity providers offered discounted rates to BC residents. With the shift in dates, that is likely a thing of the past.
This is another example of West Coast populist politics not working for everyone, especially the residents of Fernie.