B.C. residents will have to wait an extra week for their next Family Day long weekend, as the NDP government’s shift to the third Monday in February takes effect for the first time.
It wouldn’t have been on many people’s list of pressing problems, but moving the date to match the holiday in other provinces was a high priority for Premier John Horgan, with the amendment debated last February in the B.C. legislature. Introducing Family Day had been a signature move for former premier Christy Clark in 2013, but the NDP decided her decision to make it earlier than other provinces was business-friendly but not family-friendly.
B.C. ski resorts in particular pressed for the earlier date, to avoid room shortages and long lift lines as out-of-province tourists travelled on the common Family Day long weekend. When B.C. Liberal critic Michelle Stilwell asked Tourism Minister Lisa Beare what consultation was done with thousands of tourism businesses, Beare repeatedly ducked the question, calling the previous government “out of touch with the people.”
“I have answered questions about Family Day a number of times in this house, and my answer remains the same,” Beare said Feb. 20, 2018. “Moving Family Day was the right thing for families in British Columbia.”
Beare then described government consultations on raising the minimum wage and dealing with the opioid overdose crisis, before the Speaker cut her off.
An executive at Big White Ski Resort predicted the move would be “a disaster,” with B.C.’s popular resorts having room capacity problems.
“All we’re doing is cramming everyone into one weekend,” Michael Ballingall told the Kelowna Capital News. “So you’re just displacing people from B.C. with people who have already booked from America and Ontario.”
The NDP move was applauded by some. “I understand the business perspective, but this isn’t Business Day. It’s Family Day,” a reader of the Nelson Star commented on the news. But a reader poll in the Revelstoke Review found two thirds opposed to moving the date to match the rest of the country.
Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok said his region’s ski areas and tourist-dependent businesses will feel the effects of the change.
“Everyone knows prices fluctuate on the busier holidays,” Clovechok said. “Now it’s more expensive for B.C. residents to go skiing, go out to dinner, whatever.”