Sheer incompetence involved in cruise ship terminal approval

The cruise ship terminal was first mooted around 2003/2004.

Around that time, I attended a meeting organized by Tourism Campbell River while working for Strathcona Park Lodge (SPL).

Many local tourism operators, hotels, motels, fishing guides, recreational tourism businesses attended this meeting.

A presenter from the cruise ship association presented the opportunities cruise ship visits might have for Campbell River. The presentation was heavy on PR and light on concrete facts.

The presenter was upfront they were looking at Nanaimo, Prince Rupert, Port Alberni as other possibilities on the island.

I was to report back to the management of SPL whether this presented a viable, profitable opportunity to expose cruise ship passengers to outdoor activities—the core business and mission of SPL. As the presentation progressed it became clear that cruise ships would stop only for a maximum of four hours—to satisfy the requirements of the Jones Act. This would have primarily applied to ships departing Seattle.

As the presentation progressed it became clear to me that the cruise ship association (CSA) was pitting communities against each other to see who would commit to their demands. Most importantly, they did not commit to anything that would require the CSA to an agreed-upon number of visits to Campbell River or any commitment other than “we will see what you have”

It also meant that

  • Only four hours of shore time were allocated to Campbell River
  • The four hours of shore time—the clock started when a passenger left the ship—was insufficient for SPL to create a business case (travel alone to the Lodge would consume 1½ hrs)
  • The Cruise Lines they acted as the booking agent (they added a 30-50% booking fee to what the operator would charge)
  • Cruise lines required minute-by-minute schedule so the four-hour shore excursion was four hours
  • Cruise lines would require tourism operators to trim their price so the cruise lines markup would sell

When the SPL management decided that Cruise ship companies held all the cards and there was not a business case, SPL abandoned any commitment to creating shore excursion packages.

What boggles the mind is this:

  • Why would anyone pursue building this passenger terminal when the business case was shaky at best?
  • There was no commitment in writing from the cruise lines or their representative
  • Why did the city commit over two million dollars of tax money?
  • Why did the province and federal government commit money that likely will never be repaid?

Chief Roberts is correct that it has given the First Nation a “black eye” financially and reputationally.

The same must be said for the City of Campbell River, the Province and the Federal government, none of whom had done their homework with respect to knowing the risks, having a viable business case, and most importantly, getting the cruise industry to commit. One would have thought people managing such projects had the skillset.

The money could have been spent on affordable housing with a tangible benefit!

If somebody had asked after that meeting whether this was going to be successful I could have stated with some confidence that success for this project was less than 20%. I am sure many tourism operators after that meeting would have concurred.

What boggles the mind is the sheer incompetence of those decisionmakers who pushed this project forward. That no red flags were raised or paid attention to is most troubling.

Christian Stapff

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Vancouver Island teacher has started a petition imploring B.C. Premier John Horgan to close provincial borders to non-essential travel and enforce stricter quarantine measures for travellers. (B.C. government)
Teacher launches petition for B.C. to close provincial border, impose stricter quarantine

Province says what works elsewhere may not work here as they look into legalities of such actions

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Campbell River area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Tahsis has raised concerns about the condition of Head Bay Road with the provincial ministry of transportation. (Photo courtesy, Martin Davis)
It’s 2021 and Tahsis still has to fight for good roads

Overuse by logging trucks, safety concerns at blind corners and potholes are still a reality on Head Bay Road that connects Tahsis to Gold River and Highway 28

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Most Read