05/31/2012 04:02 EDT | Updated 07/31/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. Teachers' strike hitting outdoor education operators

The operator of an outdoor education lodge on Vancouver Island says he has lost more than 40 per cent of his business this spring because of the ongoing B.C. teachers' contract dispute.

Strathcona Park Lodge executive director Jamie Boulding says his business has been in a tough financial position since teachers pulled their participation in extracurricular activities.

"I would say maybe we are going to be down about $300,000,” Boulding said. “But it's ongoing, so who knows by another year at this time."

Boulding says for decades schools have brought students for a week of hiking, rock climbing and kayaking as a part of their outdoor education.

“The biggest part of what we do is large schools come and do their outdoor education week at Strathcona and many of our clients have been doing the same week of the year for more than 30 years,” Boulding said.

But the ban on extracurricular activities lead many schools to cancel their annual week this year and that has cost many operators a lot of money.

Boulding says Strathcona is not alone. Places like Horne Lake Caves, the Hornby Outdoor Centre and local ski hills have been hurt by the ongoing job action by B.C. teachers.

That is why he and the operators of 12 other outdoor education programs sent a letter to the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and Ministry of Education Thursday asking them agree to an independently mediated resolution and work over the summer to resolve the dispute.

The letter addressed to BCTF President Susan Lambert and the Minister of Education George Abbott highlights the value of outdoor education and says the dispute has threatened their long-term viability.

More than 100,000 students have participated in Strathcona’s unique outdoor education programs since the lodge opened in 1959.