Okanagan summertime business eyeing up brighter future | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan summertime business eyeing up brighter future

Owner Rylie Gallagher in front of his Wibit Water Park in Kelowna
May 12, 2021 - 1:00 PM

Some level of normalcy is expected to return this summer and Okanagan business owners are cautiously making plans for a better year.

Among them, is Rylie Gallagher, the owner of the Wibit Splash BC parks in the Okanagan. His inflatable water parks are have become a staple of summer for Kelowna, Peachland, Penticton and Osoyoos. But last year, due to both shipping constraints caused by the pandemic, and health requirements that seemed too economically difficult to navigate, the Peachland Wibit didn’t get up and running.

“We do now have plans of opening all of our locations this summer, and we are staffing accordingly,” Gallagher said, May 11.

“That said we are subject to provincial guidelines and we’re following and going above and beyond.”

If last year's regulations stand, that will mean lowering occupancy to 60 per cent and a lot of sanitation. Opening day is pegged sometime between mid to late June, but it’s weather contingent. He’s also making the parks larger this year.

Gallagher said he and his team are hoping for a good summer, but it’s not been an easy time to be a tourism based business, though he said it’s been slightly better here than in other larger centres.

“The Okanagan sees tourism business owners as a priority in the overall economy of our province, and I’ve appreciated different funding and grants,” he said.

“It’s hard because in bigger or higher density areas of the province, tourism isn’t on the mind as much. I think overall we’ve been lucky. Where I live, I feel like I have been heard and (governments) have been making plans to help give peace of mind to business owners.”

Case numbers will dictate a lot of what’s to come and the vaccine should move things in a better direction. Already, deaths and caseloads have started to ease.

That said, that Lower Mainland is still seeing a lot more COVID-19 activity than the Okanagan, though restrictions will continue to be applied across the board. Among other things, British Columbians are currently being asked to not travel out of their health region, unless it’s essential, indoor dining is out and gatherings are limited.

“We tried on, on two occasions to do things regionally and recognize that we are connected across this province and across this country in many ways,” B.C.’s top doctor Bonnie Henry said yesterday, May 10.

Through travel this virus can spread quickly through communities, past geographic boundaries.

“We have always we've maintained an approach of doing it together here in the province, and I don't see that changing,” she said, “We've seen that this virus can cause dramatic effects in many communities across the province, and we're not yet at the point where we have enough immunity across the province that we can do things differently. So, a consistent approach has worked for us and will continue to work for us.”

Dr. Henry said if health officials learn new things and get to a place where there's evidence that supports doing things differently in different communities, then they will look at that.

“But right now I think we can expect to go through this next phase together as we have been for the last year and a bit,” she said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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