A spokesperson for the Queen Charlotte Lodge (QCL) has confirmed the Naden Harbour fishing resort will not be welcoming any guests until getting the green light from the community.
Brian Clive, vice president of sales, told the Observer the lodge would like to operate at some point this summer, but staff understand COVID-19 is an unprecedented health and safety issue, and want to be “good citizens of Haida Gwaii.”
As such, Clive said the lodge is following the lead of the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) for a “made in Haida Gwaii solution” when it comes to reopening.
On June 26 the CHN confirmed it had commenced a three-week “risk assessment and consultation period” together with all island communities to review the impact phase three of the B.C. Restart Plan has on the rest of the province.
Two days earlier, on June 24, Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had announced that phase three of the plan was ready, and allowed for the opening of resorts and hotels as well as in-province travel, which is currently still not allowed on Haida Gwaii per the CHN state of emergency.
Clive’s conversation with the Observer followed a June 19 public Facebook post by Old Massett Village Council (OMVC) chief councillor Duffy Edgars, who wrote that lodges “found a loophole where they can bypass the airport terminal and go from the plane to the helicopter.”
Emphasizing that he was speaking only for QCL and could not comment on other fishing lodges, Clive said he believes the “loophole” Edgars was describing is not a loophole at all, but rather a “respectful plan to create a zero chance of creating any contamination of the virus by the lodge across the community.”
“We’ve built plans to open the lodges utilizing just the one side of the tarmac at Masset when it’s appropriate to do so,” he said, adding that Edgars and others were provided a copy of the plan.
“To call it a loophole is unfortunate when I think really it was a novel solution to an unheard-of-until-now problem.”
Under normal circumstances, he said guests would land at the Masset airport, go inside the terminal building on the tarmac, use the facilities and wait for their turn to continue to the lodge by helicopter.
“Now imagine the jet sitting on the tarmac as a staging area,” he said of the plan to eliminate interaction between guests and the community, particularly airport staff.
Instead of going into the tarmac building, guests would wait aboard the jet until their turn to continue to the lodge by helicopter, meaning there would be “no one within 100 feet of the tarmac building.”
Edgars’ post also said of lodges: “As B.C. opens up they seem to think its OK to start business as usual.”
But Clive said suggesting that QCL can start doing business “is far from the truth.”
He emphasized the plan described above is dependent on support from the community, because opening up for business contrary to the wishes of the CHN would be a “short-term win and a really long-term loss.”
Quentin Smith, the president of Pacific Coastal Airlines, also previously told the Observer the airline will not return to service at the Masset airport until the governing bodies on Haida Gwaii are comfortable with allowing non-essential travel.
While QCL has called some staff back to work, Clive said they are only working on getting the lodge ready for guests in case hosting guests becomes possible.
He added that it takes about two and a half months to get the lodge ready to open for guests every year.
Prior to the pandemic, the lodge had planned to open on May 29. They have since pushed the opening date back to June 12, June 26 and July 3.
“We have yet to derive a dollar from sport fishing business at this time,” he said. “Is there a chance that we’re not opening at all? Absolutely.”
On the same post, Edgars commented that a lodge other than the Langara Fishing Lodge was apparently “going from Digby [Island] to their lodge.”
The Observer has reached out to Edgars and the OMVC, as well as the West Coast Fishing Club and Langara.
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