The Sandspit Inn is facing closure, following a decision by Transport Canada to no longer renew their lease.
The Sandspit Inn building is owned by Transport Canada’s airport land and has been leased by the Sandspit Community Society (SCS) since 2014.
The lease, which is on a two-year term, ran out in May, however, a stipulation in the contract allowed SCS to continue operations until a new lease was provided.
In the fall, Transport Canada reassured the society that they were working on the new lease. Several days ago SCS received a call from the federal department, informing them that the lease would not be renewed and they would require an exit plan by the end of March 2020, explained Heron Wier, volunteer director of Sandspit Community Society.
“Without the Sandspit Inn many of these companies would have to house their guests in a different community and use the services offered in that community. The trickle down effect of this would be devastating to the Sandspit economy and may mean the end to our grocery store and bus system,” Wier said. “Since 2014 tourism has been increasing [in Sandspit] and the economy has slowly improved. Our economy and available services rely on the business of tourists and tour companies utilizing the services offered in our community,” Wier said.
Wier also said that the Inn accounts for more than 25 per cent of tourism accommodation in the area, not including the fishing lodges.
The Inn houses 20 rooms, available to tourists in the summer, and is used by tour companies as their local logistics base. The Inn is one of the largest employers in Sandspit with up to 20 full and part time employees in the summer – 14 per cent of the working population of Sandspit.
Transport Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Wier said he received a call from Transport Canada on Wednesday afternoon clarifying that they had no intention to demolish the building, and was told the department would like to subdivide the land and sell it.
Concerned parties reached out to Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach to help save the inn.
Bachrach could not be reached for comment, however, he made a statement regarding the situation on his social media page.
“This is something folks in Sandspit are reacting to with quite a bit of a shock,” he stated. “I am working on a letter to the Minister of Transport outlining how much this building means to the community and encouraging the minister to look at alternative solutions to keep the Sandspit Inn open and running because it is a really key part of the community’s tourism infrastructure.”
Transport Canada has planned a conference call for Thursday with the Sandspit Community Society to discuss how to move forward.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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