June 1, 2021Hooray! We are now preparing to welcome guests again this summer!
The Ka:'yu:'k't'h' / Che:k:tles7et'h' First Nations (KCFN) recently adjusted their pandemic State of Emergency measures to open their Treaty Lands and community in synch with the recent BC Restart Plan.
The BC Restart Plan depends on continued improving trends for COVID-19 data benchmarks. “Step 2” aims to re-open recreational travel between BC Health Regions by mid-June. “Step 3”, targeted for early July, allows for Canada-wide recreational travel. International travel to Canada remains restricted with BC deferring to Federal restrictions and guidelines.
What does this BC Restart Plan mean for WCE?
Our COVID-19 Safety Plan will be kept current with:
procedures at Fair Harbour Marina when transitioning between our van shuttle and water taxi services
-Provincial Health Officer requirements and guidelines
-WorkSafe BC and sector-specific best practices, including from the Sea Kayaking Operators Association of BC, and for transportation, accommodations, and food service.
- We are currently confirming trip dates and logistics with all guests from BC re-booking with credit from last summer, wait-listed guests from BC, and other Canadian travellers for summer 2021.
- We are proceeding with our annual “soft start” in mid-June with a custom school group experience, then a college group of Adventure educators in mid-July before regular trips July 26th onward through to early September.
- In late June and early July, we will be busy re-establishing our wilderness retreat base camp infrastructure after being dormant for 2 winters! This timing also allows for our new sector COVID-19 Safety Plan requirements to be clarified through industry consultations with government, so that staff and guests can embrace a shared sense of comfort, safety, and freedom while re-connecting and refreshing together again in our remote location.
March 11, 2021We are still here and are very aware of the rapidly approaching summer 2021!! Our clocks in BC shift to Daylight Savings Time this weekend, and Spring is in the air! Spring Island is front of mind for us an many others!
Every day we are assessing what will be appropriate and possible this summer, paying careful attention to the most current science, data, policies, strategies, and associated relationships. This is happening together through active discussions and collaboration with:
- The Pandemic Response Team for the Ka:'yu:'k't'h' / Che:k:tles7et'h' First Nations (KCFN), who are managing the Nations’ ongoing State of Emergency and associated permissions/exceptions for non-residents to access their Treaty Lands, where we gratefully operate. The Pandemic Response Team work closely with the Executive of the KCFN Legislature and Administration, each having different roles in the decision process and communications.
- Evolving Public Health directives and plans for Vancouver Island, BC, and Canada, including vaccinations and associated measures that relate to workplace practices, and travel guidelines and restrictions.
- Close colleagues in tourism across various companies, sectors, associations, and perspectives.
- Our valued guests relative to their individual circumstances for where they live, flexibility, travel logistics, and comfort/interest joining us this summer if possible.
- Our many long-term staff and community partners for ensuring that we can effectively facilitate positive guest experiences with associated adjustments to our infrastructure, systems, and programs.
Factors that give us reason to feel optimistic include:
- Most residents in the remote indigenous community of Kyuquot have had early access and high participation in initial vaccinations.
- BC has an ambitious vaccination plan and timelines that seem very favourable for aspects of travel this summer, albeit still with some restrictions.
- Much has been learned – and adopted – in the last year for how we collectively reduce the likelihood of virus transmission through robust pre-screening and being physically distanced in small groups outdoors – all which are favourable for our trips; wearing 3-ply facemasks when not able to distance has also seemed effective and widely accepted.
We hope to be able to celebrate together with staff, guests, and partners this summer as our 50th season, in synch with our cherished friends and family from the Ka:'yu:'k't'h' / Che:k:tles7et'h' First Nations and village area.
October 4, 2020We appreciate everyone's ongoing support and understanding while we continue shaping a realistic schedule and safe operating standards for summer 2021. Our planning is prioritizing considerations for the health, safety, and integrity of experiences for our guests, staff, partners, and residents in the remote Kyuquot area.
During October we have many conversations scheduled for assessing what has been collectively learned through the COVID-19 pandemic thus far, including with those who were able to run tours during summer 2020. This includes strategizing together with the Ka:'yu:'k't'h' / Che:k:tles7et'h' First Nations’ leadership, plus our staff, partners, and close colleagues in the sea kayaking and tourism sectors.
Our plans for summer 2021 will reflect the most current protocols for operating through the pandemic, anticipating many of the same considerations that were very successfully used by some businesses last summer, including proactive pre-trip screening, group size and composition, physical distancing, enhanced hygiene and hand-washing, sanitizing shared equipment, and wearing masks when distancing isn’t possible.
We also anticipate that access to improved screening and testing tools, overall capacity in our health care system, and government decisions/directives for visitor travel will remain significant influences.
We are giving priority to rescheduling guests who retained credit from summer 2020 and to inquiries received through spring and summer 2020.
For summer 2021, we otherwise envision being most confidently able to work with small groups of friends/family from BC and Canada. Please contact us now if wanting to ensure that we know of your interest to join us, so that we can do our best to factor your individual or group interests into our planning.
We are very excited about the number of new and returning guests who are keen to join us once the time and formula is appropriate.
We have always appreciated the diverse range of amazing people who choose WCE. As such, we also welcome your insights from experiences elsewhere, including if you have relevant professional expertise that can help us shape next season’s plans in the foreseeable COVID-context.
Be well. And stay connected.
June 19, 2020
With this objective in mind, we will not be running trips this summer for the health and safety of the remote community where we operate. We will be welcoming guests again in summer 2021 and hope you can join us to celebrate WCE's 50th anniversary!!
This decision has come after MUCH deliberation, examining our unique location and situation from every possible angle before determining that it is not appropriate or feasible to set up our base camp and run trips this summer, For us, this respectfully honours:
- community health and relationships, and
- the integrity of guest experiences through evolving protocols and expectations.
In the coming months we anticipate having more clarity and understanding about COVID-19 in general, as well as how best to move forward so we can once again feel confident welcoming individuals, friends, and families to share space and enjoy being together, interacting as visitors in Ka:'yu:'k't'h' / Che:k:tles7et'h' First Nations' lands. We remain actively engaged in local, provincial, and sector-wide conversations about best practice guidelines for operating during COVID-19. These will be shared on our website and in future correspondence.
We have communicated directly with guests who had reservations for this summer, and others who've been on standby, keen to join us. Refunds or credits have been arranged as appropriate for each guests' circumstances. We are extremely grateful for the many ways that people are being supportive, patient and understanding throughout this complex period while we prepare for when the time is right to adventure together again.
Please get in touch if you'd like to be one of the first to know once our summer 2021 schedule is ready. We truly hope you will be able to join us on Spring Island next year!
In the meantime, if you haven't yet seen this, please enjoy watching this short video of stunning wolf and sea otter footage from Spring Island and the surrounding area. May this offer a virtual taste of the West Coast to whet your appetite!
May 25, 2020
What we do – and don’t yet – know about the implications of COVID-19 for our 2020 summer season:
- Based on directives from the Province of BC, there will be no international tourism this summer; we have communicated with all affected guests and share in this disappointment.
- BC is discouraging inter-provincial travel for tourism and instead encouraging that people from BC gradually travel further afield from their home communities while still staying within the province for summer tourism and outdoor adventures.
- The leadership of the Kyuquot-Checleset First Nation (KCFN) have the goal of zero COVID-19 infections in the community; as such, they are maintaining a State of Emergency that tightly monitors essential travel in/out of the community for residents or services. The Nations will be taking a more precautionary approach to BC’s already thoughtful and cautious re-start plans.
- At this point, through a mix of international, domestic, and local travel considerations, individual guest decisions, and practical limitations, we are unable to run trips that were scheduled for June to late July, and in September. We are currently in a holding pattern for late July and August. This is similar to many other highly respected colleagues in our sector.
Throughout, we have been engaged in collaborative conversations between tourism lodges/businesses and the Kyuquot-Checleset Executive Council regarding shared concerns and tactics, all of which prioritise the goal of zero transmission to the community.
Our base camp on Spring Island is located on KCFN Treaty Settlement Land, and access to the area is through Fair Harbour, which is also Treaty Settlement Land. As such, our top consideration remains supporting the KCFN in their decision process. If they allow tourism activities within their territory this summer, we also need to ensure that our staff, infrastructure, systems, and partners can fully comply with all associated health and safety protocols, which are all in development.
We are also working closely within the sea kayaking and adventure/wilderness tourism sectors, as part of regional, provincial, and national efforts to create clear COVID-19 health and safety protocols for staff, guests, and remote communities. These protocols span a detailed spectrum of considerations including transportation, food, accommodations, equipment, back-country travel, and evacuations.
As we adjust daily and weekly to the ongoing uncertainty and associated disappointment, we very much appreciate the many understanding and supportive conversations that we’re having with guests, staff, sector partners, and our friends and family from the KCFN. To date, all family and friends in Kyuquot - including precious elders - remain in good health, with many strong community supports enacted.
We remain grateful for the wonderful people attracted to West Coast Expeditions. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we adapt to the evolving circumstances and do all that we can to welcome folks back as soon as possible.
March 25, 2020
More than ever, we have irrefutable evidence that we are all connected.
We are deeply concerned about everybody's health and well-being.
We are currently focused on actions that support collective societal interests, which ultimately also serve individuals' interests:
- staying at home, with strong hygiene practices;
- sharing compelling information and messaging that help to contain the spread of the virus, including to remote locations and communities like where our friends and family live in Kyuquot;
- reducing pressures on health care workers and systems, while activating supports;
- taking inventory of what we have to offer others, and acting on this; and
- encouraging our WCE staff, colleagues, and friends to think laterally, recognizing how they can support essential services.
Please contact us if you know you are interested in joining us once more is known, if wanting to share ideas/expertise (for us, Kyuquot, or that we can share) , or if we can offer you our support.
We are in this together. And we are grateful for the many incredible communities that connect us,
David Pinel, Managing Owner
Caroline Fisher, Co-owner
Beverly Michel, Co-owner