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Osoyoos businesses feeling impact of flooding this long weekend

File - Homes affected by flooding at Osoyoos Lake on May 12, 2018 (Source: Twitter @EmergMgtRDOS)

Hotels say they would normally be fully booked this long-weekend but flooding has kept people away

Osoyoos Lake level drops but not in time to attract more visitors to normally busy tourist town

OSOYOOS (NEWS 1130) – Despite historical flooding, Osoyoos is open for business this May long-weekend but it appears not everyone is getting that message.

“Normally everybody would be full this weekend and the truth is that everybody isn’t full this weekend,” says Ingrid Jarrett, GM and VP Business Development for Watermark Beach Resort in Osoyoos.

She says flooding, coupled with media stories about the flooding event, are keeping people away.

“We’ve, as an industry, really had a significant impact on reservations and people really being concerned about accessing the valley,” Jarrett says “But also whether or not it’s a safe place to be, which has negatively impacted our businesses pretty significantly.”

Normally, Osoyoos RV Campground would be 25-30% full this May long weekend, but only 3 campsites were occupied Saturday night and only 1 Sunday night.

“We had about 20 reservations. Most of them were cancelled and people didn’t show up,” says Owner, Tony Slovak “People were afraid to travel.”

Wineries also seeing a difference this year. Pamela Farinha, Owner of Aldega on 45th Estate Winery says the city doesn’t feel as busy as past years but adds the tourists that are in town, may be more inclined to stop by than if it weren’t flooding.

“People maybe coming to town are opting to wine tour or they can still golf and find other activities to do that aren’t on the lake,” she says.

All businesses maintain the town is safe, that most of the community has not been affected, and encourage people to keep plans to visit.

“Geographically when we term the Okanagan, you know, it’s a long valley of over 200 km long and it doesn’t mean that the whole valley is impacted,” adds Jarrett “Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and Osoyoos have all been impacted by the messaging around the flooding but in actual fact I would suggest 90 to 95% of the valley is business as usual.”

Lake level going down

The good news is that Osoyoos Lake has gone down.

“You can see where it’s slightly lower but we’re not out of the woods yet, because it was coolish this morning but it’s now getting hot,” says Mayor Sue McKortoff “We’re certainly going to be very vigilant about what’s happening but we have a felling that things are starting to slow down a little bit and that’s a good thing.”

Evacuation orders for 50 properties will remain in place for now. “The lake levels have gone down but that doesn’t mean the flooding everywhere has dissipated, not at all,” adds McKortoff.

She is aware that businesses have been impacted by the flooding.

“We’re not quite sure whether they were just a little anxious about going anywhere in the province this weekend because there’s just so many areas that have floods or whether they thought maybe this wasn’t the best time to come because they wouldn’t be able to go out on the lake,” says McKortoff.