Flooding in Alberta, which forced the closure of the TransCanada Highway for almost a week, is bad news for some communities in southeast B.C.
Revelstoke Mayor David Raven says his community normally sees about 12,000 vehicles every day, and local businesses rely on travellers stopping for food, gas or a place to stay.
Raven says traffic plummeted while the highway was closed.
“Of the 12,000 vehicles that go through here, about 60 per cent of that is commercial truck traffic, which is largely from Alberta to the Pacific coast. We are part of the Asia market for goods and services,” he said.
“The hotels and motels are really experiencing a downturn as well.”
Golden, which is right next to the Alberta border, has been hit even harder.
The highway is open but Albertans can't get past Canmore, and Calgarians are the community’s most frequent visitors.
Joanne Sweeting with Tourism Golden says they are also battling a perception problem.
“People have been thinking we are affected but in fact we had very little rain, certainly had no flooding,” she said. “The things you can do around Golden are certainly unaffected.”
Officials in Alberta managed to get two temporary lanes opened on the TransCanada Highway near Banff yesterday.
- Trans-Canada Highway to Banff, Canmore reopens 2 lanes
Communities that rely on tourism are hoping the highway is fully reopened by the Canada Day long weekend.
Detour a boon for Valemout
But the highway closure did benefit some — communities along Highway 16 have seen a huge spike in recent days as traffic headed north.
Just west of the Alberta border, hotels in Valemount have been booked solid since the flooding last week.
Marie Birkbeck, who owns a local bed and breakfast and is secretary treasurer of the Valemount Chamber of Commerce, says her occupancy has doubled with guests from Alberta and southern B.C.
"Most of them trying to get back to Victoria, and they have to take the long way around. Or the other way is that they're trying to get to Calgary to catch their planes and they can't go through, so they've had to come up and around."
Birkbeck says most of the unexpected visitors aren’t bothered by the detour.
"They're seeing a new part of the country,” she said. “For the one group of travelers this is the first time they've ever come this way, and they live in Victoria and come to Alberta a lot. So they got to see something new."
Birkbeck says tourism in Valemount has also seen a boost as a result of the unexpected travelers.
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