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Waterparks get creative in the face of cancellations

Local waterparks – a popular destination for end-of-year school outings – are feeling the effects of the teachers
Local waterparks – a popular destination for end-of-year school outings – are feeling the effects of the teachers' strike.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE

A couple of the larger water-based attractions around Chilliwack are already seeing economic consequences of the full-on teachers' strike.

Cultus Lake Waterpark owner Chris Steunenberg said out of about 40 groups that reserved end-of-the-year sliding trips, only four will be honouring them in the face of the strike action by teachers.

As a result, they're offering students who had to cancel their field trips a chance to still come to the waterpark and enjoy the school rate on the days they were originally booked for.

But staff levels are an issue.

"It's a really tough situation," he says. "It means we're not able to keep all our employees working.

"Overall it's having a huge negative impact on our revenues and on our ability to provide jobs."

Although they hired 140 employees for the season and gave them commitments, waterpark management is now being forced to juggle shifts and reduce hours.

"Every one of them is affected," says Steunenberg, adding he can't put a dollar figure to the loss yet.

The thing is, they only open the waterpark that early in the season in order to accommodate the many school field trip bookings they get in May. They wouldn't necessarily be open yet except for those school reservations.

"So it's kind of ironic to think that the teachers' strike is now going to prohibit students from earning the money they need," he says.

They are offering 2-for-1 coupons this weekend to their Facebook followers, June 21-22, as a little added incentive, as well as the after-school special price on weekdays of $10 between 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Shaun Barbon, co-manager at Bridal Falls Waterpark, said the next few weeks would have been "full of school bookings" at the park.

"There were two ways to look at the situation," Barbon said. "We tried to be proactive."

The waterpark reps decided to offer teachers with ID a chance to slide free all summer long, when they come with a paying guest, as well as creating a special family rate until June 27.

Free sliding for educators is their way of "helping teachers who are working hard for our kids" to still have fun this summer with their families, according to the park's Facebook page about coupons and specials.

As much as they were disappointed to lose the school groups, they went ahead and launched a new promotion they called the Family Field Trip on social media, so no one would have to miss out.

"We know waterparks aren't always the most affordable way to have fun," he said. "We wanted to let kids get out and slide at the school rates."

So the family promo price is $11 plus tax weekdays, reduced down from the regular rate of $20 plus tax.

Also since students get a 2-for-1 pass on field trips at Bridal Falls Waterpark the first 150 children through the gates each day will get a 2-for-1 pass to come back later in the summer.

Every school that had booked group outings had to cancel.

It's hard to put a value on. But as soon as they realized the strike was going ahead, they started brainstorming.

"We'll just make the best of it."

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

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