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Campbell River's Marine Link Tours celebrates 30th birthday

The public were free to tour the M.V. Aurora Explorer as part of Ocean Week

Marine Link Tours and the M.V. Aurora Explorer celebrated 30 years of business on June 3, capping it off with a donation of $2,500 to the Discovery Passage Aquarium.

"Marine Link Tours actually started as the brainchild of my ex-partner, Al Meadows," says Guy Adams, the owner, during a speech on the Aurora's deck.  "We went hunting for this boat (M.V. Aurora Explorer) and found it in Fort McMurray. Al cut a deal with the present-time owner at the time and the owner delivered it to us in British Columbia and we operated it from 1993/94 on tours but we actually started moving freight in 1991 when we got it."

Adams says Meadows first approached Adams and another partner, Tim Campbell, about getting into the passenger business in 1991. They both replied by asking Meadows if he was "nuts." Meadows, as Adams puts it, dragged them into the tourism industry. After the first year as a passenger business, which they sold out in "record time" in 1994, Meadows gathered his two partners again and said they needed to raise the rates. Again, Adams and Campbell asked if he was "crazy" and said the rates were already too high. The rates were raised and they sold out their tours once again. This happened during the next season. By the third season, when Meadows gathered them again, they told him "just to go ahead and raise the rates". 

"So, that was the inception of Marine Link Tours. It was Meadows' brainchild, Tim Campbell and I were along for the ride and it's been a pretty good ride," says Adams. "Sometimes I consider myself a caretaker. I hope in the future [that] I am able to pass this off to somebody else who can keep it growing. I want to thank my two partners, Tim Campbell and Al Meadows, for dragging me into this. I want to thank the crew who got us to this point. We have a bunch of really good mariners that are here moving freight for the forest industry, lots of construction sites, lots of First Nations locations, and those parts of the coast we hold most dear. The one thing we are really proud of is we got 30 very well-paid blue-collar jobs and that's important, especially when you see what's happening with the other industrial base in Campbell River."

A letter from MP Rachel Blaney was also read after Adams' speech. 

"As you know, I believe that locally owned and operated businesses are the backbone of our community and our economy. Marine Link is a significant contributor, employing 24 staff year-round and an additional six seasonal positions. These jobs are essential to our region and the benefits are profound. I'd also like to acknowledge that Marine Link actively supports initiatives including healthcare, fishing conservation, and Special Olympics," the letter said. 

Blaney's letter also mentioned Marine Link's cargo transportation services as being essential to the region, delivering heavy equipment, construction, fuel, food and even livestock to the remote and coastal communities that can only be accessed by boat. 

"It is the work of Marine Link  that makes such a difference in keeping these local communities and First Nations strong."

After Blaney's letter was written, Guy Adams and his family presented a $2,500 cheque to Ricky Belanger of the Discovery Passage Aquarium. Belanger is the aquarium's manager and curator. 

"I just want to say thanks to the Marine Link Tours team," says Belanger. "To make things work we have to find a lot of creative solutions to keep things going for another year... Definitely very proud to be part of the same community and contributing to helping people understand the beauty of what we have in the region both above and below the surface of the water... We wouldn't be able to do without the community that supports us through visitation, sponsorship in our programs, or participation in our stewardship events. It really takes a community to build an aquarium and it takes one to keep it running."