General News · 12th January 2015
The letter below is to the newly elected Campbell River Mayor Adams in response to comments he made in the local papers. As you know, I am away south soon so if you have any questions you can contact any of the signatories at the end.
January 9th, 2015
Dear Mayor Adams,
I am writing this letter on behalf of the Discovery Islands Marine Tourism Group (DIMTG) and Cortes Island Business and Tourism (CIBAT). There are at least 60 tourism operations employing over 650 people in the Discovery Islands area and this does not even include those in Campbell River. When combined with Campbell River, last year tourism employed 1200 people and had revenues of about $50 million for the area.
As you are aware, tourism is a major economic player in the Campbell River region and visitors are drawn to this area by its unique and spectacular natural beauty. With 6.3 million potential visitors living within an 8- hour drive of here and with the right marketing and protection, we could be poised to have a tourism industry rivaling that of Tofino and the Pacific Rim National Park.
But out-door tourism operators are concerned by your recent statements that may lead to a negative impact on the local tourism industry.
It was reported n the December 9th issue of the Campbell River Mirror, that you announced the revival of the forestry task force to be headed by Councilor Charlie Cornfield. The article says “the task force is expected “to work with the Truck Loggers Association, TimberWest, Western Forest Products, Interfor and all other forest-related companies based here in Campbell River and on Vancouver Island to help re-build the coastal forest industry.”
The DIMTG feels very strongly that the tourism sector needs to be consulted as well. The setting and regulation of Visual Quality Objectives and the placement of log dumps and other forestry infrastructure has a huge impact on the quality of natural experience that the tour operators can offer to their visitors. And from what we have seen from out on the water, logging as increased dramatically in the last 5 years.
Again in the Dec 9th CR Mirror, there was another article that said “We’re the centre for the aquaculture industry in British Columbia,” Adams said. “I will ask council to support executive director Jeremy Dunn and the BC Salmon Farmers’ Association and other aquaculture industries.” But Adams was quick to point out that it needs to be a multi-pronged approach. He said council will need to “work with First Nations, provincial and federal governments to ensure this industry can grow in a sustainable and environmentally respectful manner, providing jobs and economic stability for families in (the) community.”
Tourism needs to have a voice at the table on this issue as well. A salmon farm here, a log dump there and a cut block just up the channel all have a cumulative effect and results in the industrialization of some of the most scenic and heavily visited marine corridors in BC.
Tourism was recognized by the last SRD board as one of the top strategic priorities but thus far the only statement on tourism from you that I have seen on the subject was in the Nov 14th Courier-Islander and it had to do with implementing a hotel tax to raise funding to market our community. Visitors don’t come to Campbell River for its urban environment and to stay in hotels. They come to the city for the access it gives them to the magnificent natural beauty that surrounds us. Since all of the mill closures in the last 20 years, Campbell River sub-divisions and condos are filling up with people who first came here as tourists or visitors, liked what they saw and then moved here. A high quality natural environment is of paramount importance to the local economy.
Let me give you a quick tour of why the area represented by Tourism Campbell River and Region is so unique and worthy of your consideration. To the east is Desolation Sound Marine Park lying right under the Coast Mountains and the site of the warmest ocean waters north of Mexico. Where else in the world can you swim in water that comfortable with snow capped peaks right above you? The Desolation Sound area sees hundreds of boats PER DAY in high season and yet two years ago, a cutblock was done right on the park boundary.
A few kilometers to the west are the Discovery Islands with their cold, thundering tidal rapids that feed the fantastic fishing and wildlife viewing this area is famous for. Bute Inlet has the southern most viable grizzly bear populations on the coast and more bear watching tours leave Campbell River than any other place in Canada. This area is home to many lodges, kayaking tours and fishing charters. But it is also home to places like the upper Okisollo Channel which is so impacted with fish farms and rapacious logging that it is difficult to bring tourists through there.
In fact, in the entire Desolation Sound/ Discovery Islands marine area, there is not a single channel now where the eye can wander unimpeded by fish farms or recent cut blocks. So outdoor tour operators are left to wonder “What is this natural experience we are trying to sell to our visitors?”
For years, the DIMTG has taken our concerns to the forestry companies and to the Provincial Government. We have spent days and days of volunteer time in meetings and on boat tours of the area with officials. We believe that this area is special and needs a higher use plan and this needs to be done before the area is so impacted that the bad Trip Advisor reports begin.
We recognize that resource extraction and management is very important to the local economy. But the tourism industry needs to be recognized as an equal stakeholder. We ask you Mayor Adams, that you please consider this while you develop your economic policies.
Mike Moore; Misty Isles Adventures
Ralph and Lannie Keller; Coast Mountain Expeditions and Discovery Lodge
Breanne Quesnel and Rick Snowden; Spirit of the West Kayaking
Ross Campbell; Mothership Adventures
Jack Springer; Campbell River Whale Watching
Carol London; CIBAT
Cc; jimabramexplornet.ca, directorcortesisland.com, infocampbellriverwhalewatching.com, coastmtnisland.net, infomothershipadventures.com, infokayakingtours.com, caroltaililodge.com, dichamberofcommercegmail.com