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Jun 21, 2024

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – June 21, 2024



Three weeks ago, my wife and I embarked on a road trip from our home in Tofino to Edmonton and back, visiting friends and family along the way. We drove on highways 1, 3, 4, 5, 5A, 16, 19 & 97C, stopping for coffee, gas and other provisions in several BC cities, towns and small communities over the course of two weeks.

One thing that struck me during our travels was each town we visited seemed to be under some sort of water restriction, which is understandable given that Western Canada is experiencing drought conditions in many regions with smaller than normal snowpacks and little rain.

Some towns were at level 1 which, according to the province, indicates that conservation measures are needed, while others were at the maximum level – 5 – which means far more stringent action is necessary to mitigate the crisis.

From what I’ve observed over the last couple of years, provincial drought level classifications are not well understood or adopted on a community-by-community basis. For example, in some places, level 2 means you can only water your lawn on odd-numbered days, level 3 means you can’t wash your car or pressure wash the driveway, while level 4 means no use of water outdoors at all. In other towns, level 2 restricts outdoor use, while level 5 signifies the community is out of water so visitors are not welcome in the interim. Talk about confusing for tourists who travel throughout BC and encounter different rules wherever they go.

In Tofino, officials introduced a new system for water restrictions that encompasses stages 1 to 4. Level 1 is where residents and businesses can only water grass and gardens at certain times. Level 2 is where locals can only water food gardens by hand and are forbidden from filling or refilling pools and hot tubs.

At the property I operate (Crystal Cove Beach Resort), we’re mandated to provide timers on all outdoor showers, pet and foot washes. If we were to reach level 3 drought conditions, we would need to limit shower times and other indoor uses. A level 4 classification (where we can only use water for drinking and sanitizing) would mean a dire emergency that could close Tofino to visitors, which is one step ahead of what the province commands according to the drought classification scale.

To my earlier point…the classifications don’t appear to be well understood or applied consistently across BC, leaving tourists with more questions than answers.

As you well know, water conservation has become an annual practice in BC. However, what we need is for the provincial government to be working with municipalities to agree on a water conservation plan where each level is clearly understood and measures consistently applied in every city, town or community in British Columbia. For tourism operators like me, this would help our guests more clearly understand the rules and do the right thing to contribute to our business and community sustainability measures no matter where in the province.

J.J. Belanger

Chair, TIABC

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Pictured left to right:
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- Ceri Chong - Tourism Richmond
- Chris Lewis - Tourism Kelowna
- Nicole Ford - Rocky Mountaineer
- J.J. Belanger - Crystal Cove Beach Resort
- Jamie Cox - St. Andrews by the Lake
- Walt Judas - TIABC
- Mike Retasket - CCCT
- Joanne Burns-Millar - Pacific Destinations