Click here for PurpleAir Kamloops air quality map
Due to declining air quality, heat warnings and the impact of wildfires, many Kamloops summer entertainment businesses and events have been postponed for the foreseeable future – some canceled entirely.
Following the lifting of other pandemic-related restrictions on July 1, public enthusiasm to return to a more normal lifestyle was anticipated due to record temperatures, the early start of the wildfire season and the heavy smoke in the air.
BC WILDLIFE PARK (DE)
But for a breather weekend that offered beautiful blue skies and a welcome breeze, Kamloops has been smoky for much of that month.
This has led to people staying indoors, empty patios, a noticeable drop in shoppers at downtown stores, and far fewer visitors to local attractions, such as the BC Wildlife Park in east of Kamloops.
âIt had an impact on our visitors – probably a reduction of about 25 percent,â said Glenn Grant, executive director of BC Wildlife Park.
âSince the start of the year, attendance has been excellent, but over the past two weeks it has really gone down. I don’t think too many people want to spend that much time outside in the smoke, âGrant said.
Although the animals seem to tolerate the heat quite well (having access to water, shade and indoor shelter), the heat and smoke have increased the contribution for the rehabilitation side of the park.
The recent heat wave saw more than 50 birds brought to the rehabilitation center. Since then, admission levels have returned to normal for this time of year.
With the annual summer concert canceled this year, Grant said, free-flight bird of prey shows and animal encounters may soon be possible as soon as the weather permits.
Click here for more information on the BC Wildlife Park.
NIXÃ SPRING FESTIVAL
Downtown, the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association has postponed its block closure and its 2021 Spring Back Festival block party, which were due to take place last weekend.
With air quality in the high risk category at the end of last week, the Downtown Kamloops association decided to postpone.
âOur team worked tirelessly to plan every detail for the next one and it pains me to postpone the block party,â said downtown Kamloops executive director Carl DeSantis.
He noted that the smoke and heat have led to a decrease in the number of people sitting on the outdoor terraces of downtown restaurants and pubs.
Instead, businesses see more traffic inside their stores.
âPeople who really wanted to sit in patios, they go indoors where it’s cooler and the air is fresh,â DeSantis said. âSo companies are always welcoming and get support that way.
âWhen the conditions are the same as they are now, people can rest from the smoke, go into stores, go to restaurants, and they’re air conditioned and it’s fresh air. They can still do all the things downtown, just in a slightly different way.
Click here for more information in downtown Kamloops.
THEATER PROJECT X
Project X Theater intends to return to Prince Charles Park, with a COVID-aware X Fest: Theater Under the Trees production called Gruff, which runs August 3-21.
“We are certainly concerned about the smoke and the heat, as the safety of our performers and the public is a top priority for us every year,” said artistic producer Randi Edmundson, noting that the group is hoping for a reprieve from the heat and smoke in August. .
The wildfire season created an uncertain future for their organization. The past two summers have been relatively smoke-free, but the summers of 2017 and 2018 were like what Kamloops is currently experiencing.
This year, Project X Theater has a back-up location for rehearsals, and if there are evenings where it’s not safe to perform outside, ticket buyers will be offered swaps for performances on other evenings.
Click here for more information on Project X Theater.
RIVERTOWN PLAYERS ARE NOW ONLINE
Live interactive shows that offer free theatrical performances for families in Kamloops parks and events are going on virtually, with the hope of happening in city parks if air quality improves.
Originally, performances were scheduled to begin on July 15, with daily shows Tuesday through Saturday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. But the haze put an end to these plans.
The smoky skies and the heat have already taken a toll on the theater company, even in its early days of production.
As smoke and forest fires have escalated, the troop seeks to secure indoor sites and has been keeping concerns about COVID-19 in mind.
Click here for more information on Rivertown players.
KAMLOOPS FILM COMPANY
Last week, for the third week in a row, the Kamloops Film Society canceled its Twin Rivers outdoor drive-through on McArthur Island, citing unsafe air quality as the reason for the decision.
However, the Paramount Theater – run by the film company – remains open downtown on Victoria Street and Fifth Avenue and shows films.
Click here for more information on the Kamloops Film Society.
WILDLINGS RESORT AT SURREY LAKE
Recreational tourism businesses like Wildlings Resort on Lake Surrey, south of Kamloops, have also been hit by the smoky skies.
Just 18 months after starting a new business, resort owners Brett and Stephanie Russell have had to deal with the pandemic and, now, the threats of wildfires and smoky skies.
The couple ventured out of the hustle and bustle of life in the Lower Mainland to connect with their wild side, opening and rebranding the former Surrey Lake Fishing Resort that began in the 1940s.
The newly renovated off-grid complex has been slow to attract its regular clientele from places like Washington State, due to the closure of the Canada-U.S. Border crossing, which is expected to reopen on August 9 to fully vaccinated visitors from the states. United.
Meanwhile, the early and aggressive wildfire season had an impact on the station’s results.
Guests left the resort earlier due to the smoky skies and the threat of possible forest fires.
âI don’t blame them,â said owner Brett Russell. âIf you are not used to this kind of thing, it can be very scary because a fire can break out at any time. We are in a reasonably vulnerable position if this is the case.
After receiving much-needed help from the provincial government during the pandemic, Russell said he was eager to see business return to normal levels as local visitors and vacationers to the United States rediscover the resort.
Click here for more information on the Wildings Resort.