Busi­ness smoth­ered

Ver­dant Creek fire headache for Columbia Val­ley tourism

Calgary Sun - - NEWS - ALANNA SMITH al­smith@post­media.com @alan­na_­smithh

The Ver­dant Creek blaze is suf­fo­cat­ing busi­ness in Cal­gary’s sum­mer get­away hot spots.

Af­ter an “aw­ful” Au­gust long week­end plagued by road clo­sures and smoke, it is un­likely Ra­dium and In­ver­mere com­mu­ni­ties will re­cover this sea­son, said Kent Kebe, Ra­dium Hot Springs Cham­ber of Com­merce man­ager.

“(Busi­ness own­ers) have come to re­al­ize that the money won’t be made up un­less we have a re­ally good shoul­der sea­son into Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber,” said Kebe.

He called it a wait­ing game, and said the com­mu­nity is sim­ply hop­ing for the best.

The first week of Au­gust saw on-and-off clo­sures to High­way 93S due to re­duced vis­i­bil­ity and prox­im­ity of flames. The high­way links Al­berta with B.C. and its closure re­sulted in a drop of tourism in Columbia Val­ley. The high­way has since re­opened but con­tin­ues to be af­fected by the wild­fire, smoke and fire­fight­ing.

Busi­ness has picked up since the long week­end and Kebe is op­ti­mistic fol­low­ing larger crowds on Thurs­day.

Kebe’s con­cerns were echoed in Sun­shine Vil­lage.

“The Ver­dant Creek wild­fire has ob­vi­ously af­fected busi­nesses. We were closed to the pub­lic for over 10 days in Au­gust, as well as about a week in July,” said Ken­dra Scur­field, spokes­woman for Sun­shine Vil­lage Ski and Snow­board Re­sort.

She said tourism wasn’t the only chal­lenge — staff were strug­gling to make ends meet.

“Sun­shine has cov­ered rent and ac­com­mo­da­tion for em­ploy­ees that were un­able to get hours and has also pro­vided meals just so they can af­ford to live,” said Scur­field.

Parts of Sun­shine Vil­lage re­opened Wed­nes­day, but cer­tain at­trac­tions re­main closed, in­clud­ing back­coun­try trails. Dur­ing the long week­end, ho­tel pa­trons were moved to Banff, about 20 km east.

Banff busi­nesses ap­pear rel­a­tively un­scathed by the Ver­dant Creek wild­fire, ac­cord­ing to Banff and Lake Louise Tourism.

ParkS caNada/Post­mediA

This file im­age shows the Ver­dant Creek fire in Koote­nay Na­tional Park and Asssini­boine Pro­vin­cial Park in late July, which has af­fected busi­nesses in In­ver­mere, Ra­dium and be­yond.

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