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Dec 2, 2022

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – December 2nd, 2022



Even though I’m not a gambler, I was tempted to ditch my vehicle and walk to the casino 500 metres away to play blackjack or roulette all evening since the odds were better than my getting home safely during snowmageddon earlier this week in Metro Vancouver.

Instead I pulled out my laptop and wrote most of this message as I sat in my truck, barely inching forward every 20 minutes or so during what was easily the worst traffic jam I have ever experienced over the course of 44 years of driving.

It took me 10 hours (normally 20 minutes) to drive all of 18 kilometres on the last leg of my journey home from work after travelling the first 25 kilometres by Skytrain and Seabus in just under an hour.

As the minutes and hours ticked by, I became increasingly agitated over my predicament. However, in the spirit of empathy and perspective, I finally snapped out of feeling sorry for myself and focussed instead on those that likely had it much worse than me.

I was only trying to get home, but what about people who never made it to work, missed their flight, or couldn’t attend to a sick family member. I’m sure there were many parents with kids to put to bed, people that hadn’t eaten all day or desperately required medical attention. Thankfully, many good samaritans stepped in to help folks that were hopelessly stranded and in need.

Other than being hungry and tired, I was fine and eventually arrived home, but the same can’t be said for countless others including those that were forced to abandon their cars, walk to their final destination, or conversely find temporary accommodation for the night.

Notwithstanding the power of Mother Nature and the ignorant motorists without snow tires that contributed to the mayhem, I can’t help but lay some of the blame for this traffic nightmare on those responsible for snow clearing, traffic control, and highway maintenance who should have been much better prepared to deal with this situation. It’s not like we haven’t gone through similar or worse snowfalls before or that we weren’t warned for days about the impending storm.

It appears that someone was asleep at the wheel because by the time snowplows were dispatched to the hardest hit areas like bridges, several centimetres of the white stuff had already piled up and froze, causing dozens of vehicles to crash, consequently creating an endless traffic jam that prevented snowplows from reaching those very problem spots. From my perspective and that of local politicians and other motorists, there was little planning, preparation, or even a coordinated response to this much anticipated weather event.

Ironically, I got stuck returning from the Vancouver Coast & Mountains Industry Forum in North Vancouver where I presented to colleagues on tourism’s critical role in BC’s emergency management system. Granted, this storm wasn’t a provincial crisis but being in the middle of this traffic mess reminded me of a point I made during the forum where I emphasized the need for each individual to be prepared for emergencies that affect us personally, in addition to impacts on our businesses, communities, or organizations.

Admittedly, I was only partially prepared for what I encountered on Tuesday. I ate snow to stay hydrated. However, other than some chocolate I received as a speaker’s gift earlier in the day, I had no food of any kind with me. My gas tank was half empty so I couldn’t keep the engine running for long periods to stay warm but thankfully I had a blanket on hand. Suffice it to say, I learned another valuable lesson, especially the notion of walking the talk when it comes to personal emergency preparedness.

It’s obvious to me that highways maintenance contractors and local/provincial authorities also need to walk the talk and commit to actioning some, if not all the four pillars of emergency management (mitigation, preparation, response, recovery) to avoid the chaos thousands of us experienced a couple of days ago. At the very least, we could all learn a thing or two by reviewing best practices that smaller, rural, and Indigenous communities throughout BC have mastered to deal with ongoing severe weather events or other natural disasters they encounter each year.

For the record, I use public transit regularly to avoid traffic congestion and to do my part for the environment. And as mentioned, although I’m not a gambler, I’m willing to lay down a bet that more motorists will park their vehicles during the next snowfall in favour of using Skytrain to get across the river instead of taking a chance that this week’s traffic fiasco could happen again forcing them to settle in for another long winter’s night.

PS: On a related note, this week a report by the Centre for Policy Alternatives noted that natural disasters in BC last year caused an estimated $17 billion in damage. Isn’t it obvious that emergency management must continue to be a top priority for the tourism sector, as well as all levels of government?

Walt Judas

Related Posts

TIABC Director Dennis Innes (VCC Dean of Hospitality, Culinary & Baking) and CEO Walt Judas joined term 8 hospitality students, industry leaders, recent graduates, and faculty for a Philosopher's Cafe to discuss the state of the tourism and hospitality workforce this week at VCC's downtown Vancouver campus.
TIABC CEO Walt Judas with Tourism Abbotsford’s Barb Roberts & Clare Seeley, as well as VCM’s Chad Wetsch on a site visit to a land-based Tilapia fish farm owned and operated by the Sumas First Nation who are expanding their Fraser Valley holdings with ambitious plans to bolster Abbotsford’s tourism infrastructure and experiences.
As he does regularly, TIABC CEO Walt Judas recently presented to tourism students and faculty at @westerncommunitycollege's (WCC) Surrey campus, focussing on industry issues and TIABC's advocacy priorities. Walt also serves on WCC's Program Advisory Committee (PAC), as well as the PACs of @capilanou and @myvcc.
🍽️ What an incredible farm-to-table experience! Backyard Farm Proprietor and Chef Chris Van Hooydonk welcomed TOTA's Board of Directors and guests Walt Judas, Richard Porges (DBC CEO) and Scott Fraser (DBC Chair) for a memorable meal in Osoyoos this week.

Chris's culinary philosophy focuses on utilizing the freshest, locally sourced ingredients to create unique, tailored menus for each visit. With a commitment to true hospitality, the experience is marked by attentive service and a passion for showcasing the beauty of the South Okanagan.

Also pictured, Destination Osoyoos Executive Director Kelley Glazer, TOTA CEO Ellen Walker Matthews, and TOTA's Jane Parece. 

A huge thank you to Chris for providing such a delightful culinary experience! 🌿
🎉 Highlights from the 2024 BC Tourism Industry Conference in Victoria! 🌟

Close to 450 tourism industry professionals convened in Victoria last week for the annual 2024 BC Tourism Industry Conference, hosted by TIABC. Industry leaders representing businesses, sector associations, regional and community destination management organizations, First Nations, federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as non-government organizations gathered for the two-day event. 

Anchored by the conference theme - Shaping Our Future Together - the outstanding program provided both a knowledge and skills track via plenary sessions and workshops. Here are just a few highlights:

▪️ Opening keynote speaker Shaun Boothe shared a unique and emotional celebration of some of the world's most influential cultural icons. His energy and messages set the stage for the entire event.

▪️ Hon. Lana Popham, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture & Sport kicked off the conference by welcoming delegates and sharing her own personal story of working in BC's tourism industry.

▪️ Plenary Remarks by Hon. Soraya Martinez Ferrada: Insights from the Minister of Tourism and Economic Development Agency of Canada highlighted the industry's significance.

▪️TIABC CEO Walt Judas engaged in a compelling conversation with Premier David Eby whose remarks underscored the vital role of the tourism industry in British Columbia, earning him a standing ovation.

▪️ Opening Reception at the Royal BC Museum

A big thank you to all our sponsors for making this event possible! 🙌
Join us in celebrating the remarkable winners of the 2024 BC Tourism Industry Awards Gala presented by @indigenoustourismbc! 🎉✨ 

Ten awards were given out to recognize and celebrate excellence, leadership, and innovation within British Columbia’s tourism and hospitality sector. These awards showcased the province’s most exceptional leaders and positive change-makers this past year.

The winners of the 2024 BC Tourism Industry Awards are:

Business Woman of the Year Award - Sponsored by Prince of Whales
⭐ Winner: Ingrid Jarrett, @bchotelassociation 

Community Contribution & Impact - Sponsored by Tourism Richmond
⭐Winner: @princeofwhaleswhalewatching 

DMO Professional Excellence - Sponsored by BC Regional Tourism Secretariat (BCRTS)
⭐Winner: @visitrichmondbc 

Employees First - Sponsored by go2HR
⭐Winner: @golfbc 

Inclusive and Accessible Tourism Experience - Sponsored by Destination BC
⭐Winner: Vancouver Aquarium

Indigenous Operator or Experience | Sponsored by Indigenous Tourism BC and Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
⭐Winner: @homalcotours

Innovation | Sponsored by Tourism Innovation Lab
⭐Winner: @tourismnewwest 

Remarkable Experience | Sponsored by BC Destination Management Organization Association (BCDMOA)
⭐Winner: @nimmobayresort

Sector Association Excellence Award | Sponsored by Acera Insurance
⭐Winner: Sport Fishing Institute of BC

Sustainability Excellence | Sponsored by Nanaimo Airport
⭐Winner: @40knotswinery 

📸 @arkitekcreative