Cruising among the coast’s white elephants

For a measly $60 million or so, the Canadian taxpayer can build at least four more cruise ship terminals along the inside passages.

For a measly $60 million or so, the Canadian taxpayer can build at least four more cruise ship terminals along the inside passages.

Okay, perhaps another $20 million more in “chump change” would get us cruising ports of call in Ladysmith, Powell River, Port McNeill and Port Hardy. Then, when you combine those potential docks with the ones already in place in Nanaimo, Prince Rupert and Campbell River, we would have a whole herd of white elephants on the coast.

“Come see the enormous white elephants along British Columbia’s beautiful Inside Passage,” the glossy magazine ads would read.

We could even combine these attractions with tours to see white Kermode bears in order to double-up on our advertising buck.

If that sounds ridiculous, it’s still nowhere near as absurd as the tens of millions politicians and local boosters spirited away from taxpayers to build these unused monstrosities.

We in Campbell River are all too aware of our white elephant on the foreshore which is used by no one and sits behind locked gates. The story isn’t much different in Prince Rupert and it looks like Nanaimo’s new dock, slated to open in March, will start collecting cobwebs after initial hoopla is over with and some snot-nosed kid stomps on their welcoming balloons.

According to a story in our sister paper, the Nanaimo News Bulletin, the guests won’t be coming like they were expected to. The pocket cruise line, Cruise West out of Seattle, went belly-up last September thereby cancelling five scheduled visits to the “port city.”

Oh, they do have some of the “big boys” coming too, but the RSVP confirmed list has been shortened from six to four ships. In the next year or two, I figure that list will shrink to one or none.

As expected, the Nanaimo boosters are already in full damage control mode. Bernie Dumas, president and CEO of the Nanaimo Port Authority – boy, he sounds important – explained Nanaimo’s spanking new $22-million dock won’t have the glitches like we had in Campbell River at our $17-million facility.

Gee, that’s a way to attract international cruise companies, “Visit our problem-free dock and just ignore our butt-ugly city!”

Frankly, Campbell River has a whole lot more to offer visitors in terms of sight-seeing, fishing and adventure tourism. But hey, if the main goal is to whisk cruise ship guests away on a “mall tour to end all shopping mall tours,” well then, Nanaimo has us beat hands down.

But, you know what? Cruise ship guests really don’t give a hoot about hiking our Canyon View Trail or spending the day wallowing in the canyons of Nanaimo’s malls.

No. They signed on and paid good money to visit Alaska on swanky floating hotels.

They want to see mountains, glaciers, the odd porpoise swim by, and to drink and eat until they’re ready to puke.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but I wish someone holding the taxpayers’ purse would have realized the obvious before building these docks on an open tab.