KELOWNA - The winter storm that closed the Coqihalla Highway last night had a big impact in Kelowna, stranding athletes heading to a ringette tournament who were also customers for the city's hotels.
The Kelowna Sweetheart Ringette tournament is this weekend with about 90 teams, or roughly 1,400 athletes expected — over half from the Lower Mainland.
“It was a long and cold night for a lot of families, many slept in their vehicles,” Kelowna Ringette Association president Lesley Driscoll says.
As of this afternoon, Feb. 10, three teams had dropped out of the tournament forfeiting their $800 entrance fee. The tournament was scheduled to start today but a number of games had to be rescheduled due to the travel conditions delaying a number of teams.
“Staff worked into the wee hours of the night to rework all the games impacted,” Driscoll says. “A handful of teams will have to forfeit games unfortunately.”
Hotels in Kelowna have also been impacted by the weather conditions which forced some to turn back to Vancouver and others to miss their bookings.
Comfort Suites general manager Carla Carlson says they lost 14 bookings for Thursday night or about 20 per cent of their total occupancy.
“The highway closures have affected us both ways - from the Lower Mainland and also from Alberta,” Carlson said. “The weather is extreme.”
She says a team traveling from the Lower Mainland for the ringette tournament arrived this morning after spending over 17 hours on the road.
“I give kudos to these people for travelling in such treacherous conditions and not being extremely irate,” she said. “We got them into their rooms, with a hot breakfast - they were so kind and grateful.”
Carlson estimates the hotel has incurred a few thousand dollars in lost revenue.
The Cove Lakeside Resort had seven ringette teams traveling from the Fraser Valley. Leasa Kennedy with the resort says one team cancelled their stay and the hotel is expecting the others to arrive at some point today.
“It’s very unfortunate, the roads are quite messy,” Kennedy says. “A few teams mentioned the biggest challenge was navigating around pulled over semi-trucks that were taking over the lanes.”
The Coquihalla Highway reopened at about 2 p.m.
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