Living/Working June 19, 2020


June 19, 2020

B.C. tourism industry bets on a staycation summer

Sector hopes British Columbians will help offset the revenue loss of international visitors

The B.C. tourism industry is banking on an increase in the number of British Columbians visiting domestic attractions such as Steveston’s Fisherman’s Wharf | Chung Chow

People sometimes lament that they take the city for granted until they have an out-of-town guest to entertain. But as the province eases COVID-19 restrictions, B.C.’s tourism industry and support sectors are hoping that it doesn’t take an out-of-province tourist to encourage British Columbians to make the most of their own backyard.

The tourism industry has been one of the hardest-hit in the COVID -19 pandemic. Destination BC is projecting a 70% decline in revenue and employment in 2020 for the tourism industry. Revenue is projected to fall to $6.7 billion this year from $21.5 billion in 2019 and employment to drop to 44,000 from 166,000 in 2019. Hotel occupancy rates were almost sliced in half. They dropped to 39.3% in 2020 compared with 74.7% in March 2019, and Vancouver’s revenue per available hotel room fell to $65.78 in March from $130.07 for the same month last year.

However, the industry hopes that Phase 3 of B.C.’s restart plan, which lifts travel restrictions between communities, will be rolled out soon.

British Columbians alone can’t repair the damage done by the pandemic, but hoteliers, tour companies and industry associations are hoping that local traffic will help salvage some of what remains of the 2020 tourism season and are promoting 2020 as the year of the staycation.

That means different things for different parts of the industry. With businesses slowly beginning to reopen, hotels have started to see an increase in bookings, particularly from people in B.C., according to Lin Schatz, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Vancouver.

While pent-up travel demand is a big factor, Schatz said that hotel bookings should increase once other attractions around the city begin to reopen. In theory, the closure of the Four Seasons Hotel and the drop in Vancouver’s hotel room supply should ease the impact of the lower demand. But Schatz said the decrease has been so dramatic that lower supply has had a negligible impact in offsetting the economic damage.

Keith Phillips, president and founder of West Coast Aquatic Safaris, said he has had few bookings, and the company continues to handle cancellations for tours planned into August – though not for September bookings. Schatz and Phillip agreed that people usually book hotels and other big-ticket items first and because of the COVID-19 uncertainty might be hesitant to book other activities.

How successful the staycation summer will be is anyone’s guess.

In 2019, British Columbians accounted for 11.8 million overnight stays in the province – about 53% of the total. This year, the tourism industry will need to survive on half of its regular customers for all its revenue.

However, Destination BC expects overnight stays by locals to fall 30% to 8.2 million.

But not everyone thinks B.C. traffic is going to decline.

Phillips is expecting his B.C. traffic to go through the roof. The catch is that British Columbians represent less than 10% of his whale tour business. He’s hoping that B.C. residents will make up a third of each boat’s capacity.

Preliminary evidence suggests that this will indeed be a staycation summer for British Columbians. When online camping reservations for BC Parks reopened, the site crashed. It received 50,000 reservations on the first day.

“We’re experiencing a staycation mentality with a lot of camping gear flying out the door,” said Brodie Wallace, director of hard goods for outdoor equipment supplier MEC.

Wallace said sales are doing much better than expected given the pandemic, and online sales have grown. He attributes the sales to people looking for activities they can take part in, such as kayaking and cycling, while maintaining social distancing.

But if people are paying the province to sleep outdoors, does that help the tourism industry?

“When people do go camping, they’ll engage in other activities,” said Maya Lange, vice-president of global marketing at Destination BC. 

Winter tourism could also shoulder more of the industry load. Typically 50% of tourism revenue is generated in the summer. The remaining 50% is split between spring, fall and winter. With people being cooped up for the first part of the year and COVID-19 fears lingering, the winter months could provide a tourism boost.

British Columbians exploring parts of the province they have never seen before will help sustain some businesses. But until the number of foreign visitors rebounds, the industry will continue to struggle. •


Trade, economic priorities trump UN security council aspirations

Yes, prime minister, as you said in 2015, Canada is back.

Indeed, Canada is well back.

We took third place in a race for the United Nations Security Council seat in which only gold and silver medals were accorded. As Jerry Seinfeld might put it to console Canada, no loser finished ahead of us.

There are plenty of silver linings in the failure. If you don’t get the Olympics, it’s not like you can’t compete in sports. Or, in Canada’s case, it’s not like there aren’t any domestic issues to address in what would have been two years ahead of occupying the council seat and obsessing on extra-territorial matters.

The UN perch had value – the council can sanction force or suffocate it with its resolutions – but it is also a complication Canada does not need as we look inward of necessity in our history. If we want to preserve and sustain our standard of living, we need to look at ourselves for the time being much more than we do the wider world. Much will change, countries will need to be nimble, and the UN is about neither.

Our pandemic world and what follows requires recalibration of our economies, first and foremost domestically our capacity to retain and rebuild our prosperity, get out ahead of what we can produce for others and prudently but not too protectively rethink the clearly fragile chains that supply us from abroad.

The country’s diplomatic challenge is to smooth bilateral relationships like cooing doves, not run with the wolf pack at the security council. If this will be a time of bringing jobs back home, it will also be a time of finding trustworthy allies, one by one.

Besides, there has been something disingenuous about Canada’s campaign to secure the security seat. We were selling values abroad we don’t entirely abide by at home, and other countries can certainly sniff out the incongruence. Their vote was essentially a public opinion survey writ large, and Canada finished behind Norway (a better aid provider) and Ireland (a larger peacekeeper) because the world opinion about us isn’t necessarily what Justin Trudeau and his team purport – or, perhaps, what the world particularly wants as an influence.

The easiest verdict the world could cast without breaking a sweat is that we remain hostile to those of earliest origin and unwelcoming to those of recent arrival. We have countenanced systems that do not stray considerably from what the UN regularly condemns – even of countries Canada embarrassingly begged for support for the seat. We are more than a little delusional when we claim the high ground. If we want into the inner sanctum of the council, we have reforms to perform before we can morally claim centre stage.

In the absence of a seat, though, there is much that can be done. If the pandemic has shattered our faith in global co-operation, then Canada can align itself and build better trading relationships with countries that share science, transparency and the rule of law.

Without question, our attention globally has to diversify beyond our two largest trading partners.

We have sat in the shadow of America, ridden its coattails when convenient, and now need a more diverse trading portfolio because our largest partner can’t be trusted, at least until November. We have a sorry situation with China that will endure well beyond November; it’s hard to know where to start on it, but we have stepped into quicksand and cannot figure our next move. These two countries, of course, have veto powers in any substantive resolution by a council we would have been hard-pressed to influence.

And the council is operating inside a Cold War-era institution that is, in business parlance, like running a financial firm without a computer. Not quite obsolete, but certainly not state-of-the-art.

Canada may yet again want this seat, but before it again spends millions of dollars on a vanity play, there are some priorities. Clean running water coast-to-coast is a start. Unimpeded opportunity for all is a logical step. An energy policy to help the wider world is a good olive branch. A renovated military is an authentic offering. A little less preaching, a lot more practice, would be welcomed. •

Kirk LaPointe is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and the vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.



Here's where the City of Vancouver has approved 85 temporary patios

City has received 175 applications since the program started on June 1

provence marinaside
Provence Marinaside is one of 85 newly approved temporary patios | @ProvenceMarina on Twitter

The City of Vancouver has approved 85 temporary patios since it put in place an expedited process for patio approvals on June 1.

Restaurant owners who were forced to close dining rooms between mid-March and mid-May were asking the city for a simpler and speedier process to approve patios, and they were rewarded when council voted for the program in late May.  The city is also waiving application and permit fees. 

Data that the city released June 19 showed 73 patios approved on public property and another 12 patios approved on private property. Staff are reviewing 19 patio applications on public property and 16 that are on private property.  It has determined that applications for 55 patios on public property are outside the scope of the program and are not under active review.

That means that there have been 175 applications for new or expanded temporary patios since the city put in place a new expedited process, and 74 new applications in the past week. 

Here is the full list of approved temporary patios so far:

33 Acres Brewing Company 15 West 8th Avenue
33 Brewing Experiment 25 West 8th Avenue
Alibi Room #100-157 Alexander Street
Annalena 1809 West 1st Avenue
Argo Cafe 1836 Ontario Street
Beaucoup Bakery and Cafe 2150 Fir Street
Bomber Brewery 1488 Adanac Street
Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar 845 Burrard Street
Breaking Bean Kafe 551 Cardero Street
Browns Crafthouse 202 East 16th Avenue
Brunch 1147 Granville Street
Burdock & Co 2702 Main Street
Burgoo (Mount Pleasant) (x2) 3096 Main Street
Castaway Bar and Kitchen 3293 West 4th Avenue
Chickpea 4298 Main Street
Coho Coffee 1370 East Georgia Street
Craft  85 West 1st Avenue
Dachi 2297 E Hastings Street
Devil's Elbow Alehouse 562 Beatty Street
Do Chay Saigon Vegetarian Restaurant 1392 Kingway Avenue
Donnellan's Irish Pub 1082 Granville Street
Eight 1/2 restaurant lounge 151 East 8th Avenue
El Camino's (x2) 3250 Main Street
Electric Bicycle Brewing 20 East 4th Avenue
Fable 1944 West 4th Avenue
Faculty Brewing Co. 1830 Ontario Street
Fiore Famiglia 2603 West 16th Avenue
Grano Pizzeria 3240 Main Street
Grub 4328 Main Street
Junction Public House  1138 Davie Street
Kozak Homemade Ukrainian Food 5077 Victoria Drive
Laduree 1141 Robson Street
Little Bird Dim Sum 2958 W4th Avenue
Livia 1399 Commercial Drive
Local Gastown 3 Alexander Street
Lucky Taco 1685 Yew Street
Main Street Brewing Company 261 East 7th Avenue
Milano Gastown 36 Powell Street
mitra canteen /Uncle Abe's 3034 Main Street
Nikkyu Japanese Restaurant 3302 Main Street
Nuba Mount Pleasant (Cafe Nuba) 146 East 3rd Avenue
O Sushi 742 Granville Street
OEB Breakfast Co 1137 Marinaside Crescent
Off the Rail Brewing 1351 Adanac Street
Old Bird 3950 Main Street
Pink Elephant Thai Restaurant 1152 Alberni Street
Pizzeria Bufala 5395 West Blvd
Portland Craft 3835 Main Street
Provence Marinaside 1177 Marinaside Crescent
Pumpjack  1167 Davie Street
Published Restaurant 3593 Main Street
R&B Brewing/Ale and Pizza  54 East 4th Avenue
Ragazzi Pizza 2996 East 22nd Avenue
Regal Beagle Grill 2283 Broadway Street
Red Truck Stop  6295 East 1st Avenue
Rogue  601 West Cordova Street
Rocky Mountain Flatbread 4186 Main Street
Rocky Mountain Flatbread (Kits) 1876 West 1st Avenue
Rogue 601 W Cordova Street
Romers  1873 W 4th Avenue
Say Mercy 4298 Fraser Street
Seiza Japanese Cuisine 3068 Main Street
Soho 1283 Hamilton Street
Starbucks Coffee 580 Bute Street
Steamworks  375 Water Street
Street Kitchen 1950 Triumph Street
TC Lions Pub 888 W Cordova Street
The American 926 Main Street
The Basic 3048 Main Street
The Cannibal Cafe 1818 Commercial Drive
The Charlatan 1447 Commercial Drive
The Five Point 3124 Main Street
The Reef Restaurant 4172 Main Street
The Templeton 1087 Granville Street
The Union Kitchen and Bar 219 Union Street
The Yale Saloon 1300 Granville Street
Their There 2042 West 4th Avenue
Urban Sushi 562 Granville Street
Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana 1190 Victoria Drive
Wallflower 2420 Main Street
Yagger's Kits 2884 West Broadway
Zocalo Modern Cantina 646 Kingsway Avenue












The PNE is holding a drive-thru BBQ event for Father's Day

Get a Taste of the PNE at the Car-B-Q!

Ribs from Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ/Facebook

First there were the Mini-Donuts, now it's time for a meaty fest. For their second drive-thru micro-event, the Fair at the PNE is holding a "Car-B-Q" that's all about some of their most popular rib-slingers.

Taking place June 18 through 21 at Hastings Park, the advanced-purchased event will feature two concessionaires from other provinces, as well as two local vendors. All of the food must be pre-ordered, and you'll drive through and pick up your eats. Plus, as a special treat, the PNE hopes to "get dad’s engine running" courtesy the first-ever indoor drive-through car show, featuring classic, vintage, and muscle cars, and hot rods from across the region.

These drive-through mini events are how the PNE is coping with having to curb their usual Fair operations due to COVID-19. With gatherings limited to fewer than 50 people and mandated physical distancing measures, organizers have gotten creative with how they can still bring people together, as well as support many of the Fair's vendors.

Now, back to the grub. Selling eats will be Smith family of Ontario with Gator’s Barbeque and Reinhardt family of Saskatchewan with Prairie Smoke, both popular picks at the PNE's Ribfest zone. And our own local Reel Mac and Cheese truck, and The Fry Guys have grub up for grabs, too.

Ticket purchasers will choose their day and time, and pre-purchase all their food. Ticket purchases include two tickets to the opening day of the 2021 PNE Fair. Prices are: $29 for one rack of ribs (plus two tickets to the 2021 Fair) and sides of mac and cheese or poutine can be purchased for $12 each. Entrance to the drive-through car show is free with your food purchase.

A Taste of the PNE – Car-B-Q Edition!

When: June 18-21, 2020 from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 4-8 p.m.

Where: Hastings Park/PNE Grounds: Enter off Renfrew Street, North of the Pacific Coliseum

Cost: Build your own food package, prices are $12-29 per item. Purchase online.

Vancouver Is Awesome


Parking lot patios a hit at Port Coquitlam breweries

Three breweries and a distillery applied and received approval to extend outdoors so they can provide more space for patrons

Northpaw Brewing in Port Coquitlam is opening an outdoor patio in a loading zone to provide more space for customers to socially-distance during the COVID-19 pandemic | Submitted

There’s nothing like a cold beer and relaxing on an outdoor patio and now there will be more of them, at least in Port Coquitlam.

The city has given the green-light to outdoor patio space to three local breweries and one distillery, allowing them to put seating outdoors in parking areas to provide more space for customers as they re-open.

“For customers it’s a complete game changer — they absolutely love it,” said Courteney Brown, owner of Northpaw Brew Co. in Port Coquitlam.

He applied quickly to take advantage of the city’s offer to expand outdoors, and, after getting approvals from PoCo as well as Fraser Health and WorkSafe BC for COVID-19 plans, re-opened to customers, using loading zone parking.

Now, with customers showing up to sit in large, comfy chairs under a canopy, Northpaw is almost up to pre-COVID 19 capacity, and just in time, because shutting down for three moths cost the brewery dearly.

“I’m positive in the sense of being cautiously optimist,” said Brown, who credits Mayor Brad West and city council for understanding the needs, and challenges, of local businesses.

Tinhouse Brewery has also re-opened and founder Phil Smith said he’s hoping to open more patio space in a parking area but has some details to work out.

But Smith said he’s hopeful he can expand soon, in the meantime, Tinhouse is serving up beer indoors — to the appreciation of local customers, who he said are respectful of social distancing restrictions.

“For now we have opened our lounge to the recommendation of the provincial health authority,” he confirmed, noting that people he’s talked to are happy to get out and socialize again, albeit in small groups.

Others looking at expanding outdoors are Taylight and Patina Brewing, as well as Provincial Spirits, who received city approval, according to spokesperson Pardeep Purewal.

The changes come as schools, hair salons, restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses re-open as part of the province’s Phase 2 restart up plan.

Tri-City News


What are we reading? June 18, 2020

File photo: Shutterstock

Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

There has been a lot of recent writing about how the Conservative Party of Canada just needs to make a few centrist gestures to vault back into power. But while some lip-service to the political middle might have worked in the past, say analysts Frank Graves and Michael Valpy, the party’s wheel is stuck in a hard-right turn:

It’s the face of authoritarian populism that is largely driving the new conservatism in Canada. Traditional progressive conservatives may yearn for the status quo conservatism of yore. The new base looks more like Trumpian populists than the Red Tories of the Charest era.” – Macleans


Can B.C. become a wine “superpower?” This colourful feature suggests the answer is yes – but it will take time to continue to cultivate its wine-growing region as a destination:

If British Columbia is to earn a spot in the [Great Wine Capitals], the Okanagan Valley … will likely need to evolve to become its main selling point.” – Walrus


Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

New report delves into drug development and access to new medicines in Canada and finds the country and its overall health-care system subpar on a host of fronts. – Macdonald-Laurier Institute


Today's pandemic dining recommendations include everyone's upcoming favourite: algae. – Entrepreneur


Emma Crawford Hampel, online editor: 

There is no shortage of labour. Employers just need to improve their offer. Toronto Star