Turning back the pages: Columbia Basin Treaty

Turning back the pages: Columbia Basin Treaty

With talks ongoing regarding the Columbia Basin Treaty this article from the Golden Star from January 14, 1965, seemed timely.

Columbia Treaty Project is expected to boost tourist trade

Tourist spending in the area near the Columbia Treaty project is expected to total about $17 million annually by 1970 compared to expenditures of about $7 million in the same area in 1964.

That’s the prediction of B.C. Hydro economists, J.T. Arnold and D.T. Thomson, who advise tourist industries to plan now if they want to take advantage of the multi-million dollar opportunities that lie ahead.

The two economists estimate that visitors to the three Treaty projects, Mica, Arrow, and Duncan – will be responsible for about one third of the additional spending.

The Hydro economists predict that the Revelstoke area will receive most of the benefit from spending by tourists attracted by the construction of mammoth Mica Dam, the largest of the three Columbia Treaty projects.

The area from Trail to Kaslo will benefit from spending by tourists visiting Arrow and Duncan projects.

The two economists point out that the $10 million increase in annual tourist spending in the project area by 1970 will not be achieved without careful planning by local governments, businessmen and the tourist industry to ensure adequate facilities are provided to attract and accommodate visitors.

B.C. Hydro will do its part to attract tourists by providing viewpoints at all three projects so that tourists can watch the construction from suitable vantage points. Signs will be erected to direct tourists to the project and attendants will be on duty at the project sites during the tourist season to provide general information to visitors.

Washrooms and refreshment facilities are planned at the site of Mica Dam, 92 miles north of Revelstoke and tourist washroom facilities will be provided at the site of Duncan Dam, 25 miles north of Kaslo.

The creation of the lake behind the installation of boat handling facilities at Arrow and easier access to Duncan will play important roles for tourism in the region.

B.C. Hydro is also considering the possibility of reserving area for campsites, beaches and public recreation.

The Hydro report on tourist business opportunities in the Columbia region follows an earlier report outlining the impact that payrolls from the construction of ten Columbia projects will have in the same area.

The Hydro economists point out that lodging, food, transportation (gas, oil, etc.) will account for 85 per cent of tourist spending in the Columbia Region.

Food and Transportation will account for about 33 per cent of the visitor’s dollar and lodging for about 19 per cent with the remaining divided among miscellaneous items such as entertainment, souvenirs and occasional shopping.

Big Gains for Revelstoke

Tourist spending in the Revelstoke area is expected to jump from the 1964 level of $2.5 million annually to over $6 million in 1970.

Tourist spending on lodging in this area is expected to reach a level of about $1.5 million by 1970, an increase of almost $1 million over 1964.

This would require about 25 new motels with an average of 30 units each. Capital required to construct these facilities would be about $4 million.

Spending on restaurant meals and groceries is expected to increase by about $1.5 million over the same period. Increased gasoline, oil, and miscellaneous automobile accessory sales should be sufficient by 1970 to support about seven new service stations.

Tourist Industry Challenge

The Arnold and Thomson study indicates that the promising opportunities facing the tourism industry in the Columbia area will be accompanied by problems.

In the area around Revelstoke, for example, lodging accommodations are fully utilized during the summer but experience very little business during the off-peak seasons.

“This presents a real challenge to the hotel and motel industry to handle the increased summer peak and still maintain a profitable year-round operation.”

The economists suggest that some of the construction force employed on the Arrow project may live in motels during off-peak seasons and thus help to level out the fluctuation in occupancy levels in that area.

Similar challenges will be faced by the restaurant industry that they will be less serious since the restaurant owner does not normally have as much invested in business and equipment as the hotel and motel operator and therefore is in a better position to withstand the off-season slumps.

Since some tourists prefer to cook their own food in motels and increasing numbers are cooking meals in trailers and at campsites, existing grocery stores in the Revelstoke and Trail-Kaslo areas should experience “very substantial” increases in the volumes of summer business.. In many cases, they should find it profitable to expand.

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