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Family Day ski hill boon

This weekend marked B.C.’s fourth Family Day, and Okanagan mountains were packed with snow enthusiasts.

According to Big White, Family Day marked one of its busiest days of the season.

“The weekend broke all-time records,” said spokesman Michael J. Ballingall. “The busiest day of the year was Dec. 28, 2015, but Family Day itself was in the top five.”

Big White was not alone in enjoying the big Monday numbers.

“It was a very successful Family Day long weekend, especially for the little guys,” adds Ballingall. “The small businesses, the people that supply us with food, the wineries. This was another sell-out weekend, so everyone is drinking wine, they are eating steak dinners, they are buying groceries, they are buying lessons.”

The big weekend required about 30 per cent more staff than normal.

“You are talking close to 350 extra staff that we had on over the weekend. So, it is a great story for the economy and employment, our shuttle busses, the gas stations – everyone in the business of tourism wasn’t closed, they didn’t have a holiday,” said Ballingall.

B.C.’s long weekend is one week before that of other provinces and one week before the President’s Day long weekend in the U.S.

A petition has called for the long weekends to be synchronized. Ballingall says it’s being driven by the financial industry.

“The petition makes no sense to us,” says Ballingall. “It seems like the financial industry is mad, because the stock exchange is open and they have to go to work. Well, so do a lot of people. The police, firemen, nurses – they all have to work. Doctors, bus drivers – they still have to work. There are a lot of people that still have to work, that would work on any day.”

Vancouver financial adviser Andrew Johns created the petition. He claims the B.C. economy loses millions because the holiday doesn’t align with the rest of Canada.

But, Ballingall says the economic benefits are massive.

“We think it is a good 10-day stretch, and it certainly employs a lot more people than when we didn’t have Family Day,” said Ballingall.

“It is better for everybody, it is huge for the winter tourism industry…. That petition just doesn’t make sense to us.”

“Why would you compete with the biggest economy in the world – America – with the dollar as short as it is, they would just displace all the Canadians.”

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