Smoke having major impact on tourism in Cache Creek

By Chad Klassen
August 3, 2017 - 3:05pm Updated: August 3, 2017 - 5:36pm

CACHE CREEK, B.C. — The incredible amount of smoke settling in on the Thompson region is having a great impact on the community of Cache Creek.

However, it's not only health impacts but also effects on local business, many of which aren't seeing many tourists. 

Anie Campbell doesn't know what to make and how much of it at her bakery in Cache Creek, not knowing who's going to show up from hour to hour.

"There's no traffic," she said. "We're down about half, about half of the business, especially because this is our big season every year come July to August, and now it went down to half."

It's a similar story through most of Cache Creek. Along Highway 97 at Horsting's Farm Market, it's a ghost town with a few visitors a day at what it typically its busiest times of year. 

"Usually we'll turn our parking lot over multiple times on day during lunch time, and now it seems like the parking lot doesn't even fill up during lunch. For the past week at least, it's been 10 people in," noted Alex Shane, manager of Horsting's Farm. 

The August long weekend is the big money-maker for the farm. But the smoke and fires are keeping people away and keeping employees out of work for the time being. 

"We're trying to regroup all of our employees. Not everyone we have employed her is from Cache Creek. There's people closer to Clinton, and on some side roads, and some of thsoe people are still in evacuation."

At the Bear Claw Lodge, things are a bit brighter with all 15 rooms booked by firefighters and RCMP officers on the Elephant Hill fire.

However, the restaurant, which is the biggest income-earner for the lodge, is still closed after shutting down July 7 when the village was put on evacuation order. There simply are not enough tourists to justify keeping it running. 

"It affects our community that relies so much on tourism because the highways are our arteries and nobody can get through from the south, and they totally bypass us," said Sandra Schwindt, co-owner of the Bear Claw Lodge. "I would say all of us, our revenues are close to zero other than firefighters and anybody who's come through."

For Anie, she almost can't afford to stay open with the smoke. 

"We're thinking about it because there's no traffic, and we're open and paying the bills and paying our staff, and there's no customers coming in."

B.C. unemployment rate stays among the best in Canada