In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ve been talking turkey with many members in recent weeks during my travels across the province. While at the Canada West Ski Areas Association BC-Yukon Fall Division Meeting at Sun Peaks this week, as well as the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Whistler last month, I took the opportunity to connect with sector association partners, DMOs, and operators to discuss issues that affect their stakeholders or businesses.
Not surprisingly I heard about workforce and housing issues as primary concerns. More importantly, members offered policy recommendations for TIABC to advocate for. For example, an extension to wage and rent subsidies offered by the federal government during the height of COVID would be extremely helpful…only in this instance paid directly to workers to assist with the high cost of living in many parts of the province.
Similarly, in housing challenged communities where some outside workers travel up to two hours from neighbouring towns, a transportation subsidy or dedicated vehicle (e.g. bus or van) would be welcome given how long and expensive commutes prompt many people to quit their jobs after only a few months.
Still with housing…while TIABC has been advocating for some provincial oversight and additional powers for local communities to enforce regulations vis-a-vis short-term vacation rentals, I heard one tourism leader say that implementing more rules or restrictions won’t necessarily compel owners of multi-million-dollar homes in his community to rent to long-term tenants instead of temporary visitors. Because of problems with the residential tenancy act, owners would rather leave their suites empty than deal with tenant problems.
In a meeting with a few sector association members in Kamloops, I learned that we’re regressing instead of progressing on the issue of secure land tenures for operators in the adventure tourism sector, largely due to new government policy and misalignment of decision-making authority (i.e. Forests ministry instead of Tourism ministry).
Although none of the aforementioned issues are insurmountable, a strategic advocacy approach by TIABC and our key sector partners is necessary to achieve desired outcomes that help our industry in its recovery and growth objectives.
While I’ll continue to talk turkey with stakeholders during my ongoing travels in the coming weeks, there will be an additional opportunity in the form of a member survey that will allow our sector partners, DMOs and businesses to identify top priorities and give TIABC its advocacy marching orders for the foreseeable future. Watch for the survey in your inbox next week and please take a few moments to respond.
In the meantime, in spite of our challenges we have much to be grateful for. I trust you’ll take the time to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends this weekend. Gobble gobble.