Visit the City .. not the Stereotype

They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. That may be true but at a certain point you need to ask yourself if your promoting or parody-ing.

The recent Olympics in Vancouver brought a lot of publicity to Canada, British Columbia, and Vancouver. The Olympic ceremonies tended to feed the common stereotypes that the world had for Canada. The problem is that it was Canada that was presenting that view of itself.

That basically gives permission for others to do the same thing.

In Victoria, we recently hosted NBC’s Today Show. They flew to Victoria on the floatplane from Vancouver, went to the Empress for Tea, and then ate some fish and chips. Now I hope, as many local businesses do, that this will mean more tourists and dollars for the local economy.
Yet it just bugs the hell out of me.

The Myth: They get on the nice little floatplane and make some cute little jokes about whether a little old plane like that is safe or not

The Reality: The Twin Otter flown by Westcoast Air is a Canadian designed legendary airplane. It would have been nice if they had managed to plug the local Victoria business, Viking Air, that recently put them back in production. They secured orders from all over the world – including the US Army’s Parachute team, so they are probably a pretty good little airplane.

The Myth: Tea at the Empress, a classic taste of England here in Victoria.

The Reality: While that ‘a little bit of Britain’ got a few tourists in the 60s, 70s, and 80s we really have moved on. The Empress is still an icon on the inner harbour but the Grand Pacific, Laurel Point, and Delta’s Ocean Point hold up pretty well themselves. And High Tea may be a nice treat we have dozens of coffee houses that really represent the local culture much better.

The Myth: A spot of fish and chips. Again the ‘Bit of Britain’ view takes front and centre.

The Reality: Fish and Chips is on the menu in many spots and I was glad to see Red Fish, Blue Fish in the spotlight. But really, the massive number of choices around town for the foody crowd deserve a little better. The fact that the annual ‘Dine Around‘ event was on at the same time would have been a nice mention as well. We probably have more good Sushi places than good Fish and Chip shops. And don’t even get me started on the gastropubs, and microbrews…..

So how could they have gotten a better view of Victoria, well:

Just saying ….


‘General’ Aviation

A new study shows the use of business jets and other small aircraft is more about companies trying to gain efficiency and improve the bottom line than about providing a luxurious perk to those at the top of the corporate ladder. The industry wants to dispel many misconceptions about how and why companies use general aviation.

(from Wired)

I’ve been a General Aviation pilot for over 20 years. I fly for enjoyment and occasionally to get from A to B. The focus of ‘Business Aviation” has been the jet – but the reality it that the small single and twin engine propellor aircraft are used by everything from the small construction company to major hydro and communication companies. Especially in British Columbia where driving distances are vast – travelling as ‘a crow flies’ takes a massive amount of time off getting somewhere. As the wired article points out only a small fraction of communities have scheduled air service. If you live in the lower Mainland, Victoria, Kelowna, Prince George you probably have some choices, less so for Prince Rupert, Smithers, Dawson Creek, and Cranbrook. If your in Nelson ¬†or Quesnel you’ve got a significant drive head of you before you can even get to a scheduled air service.

Now there is no reason to expect that scheduled service can get everywhere. When you have to travel to some locations, costs are going to be high, including chartering a small aircraft if that is cheaper than a 12 to 16 hour drive.

General aviation has two challenges. The added security continues to put more and more restrictions on where you can fly and the amount of paperwork required. The latest example is the massive areas of the lower mainland which will be restricted during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The restrictions extend to include Naniamo, most of the Gulf Islands and into the northern San Juan Islands.

The second challenge is keeping small airports operating. There was the notable case of the City of Chicago bulldozing Meigs field . Small aviation fields are considered a nuisance, and when land values rise, pressure to ‘develop’ can be overwhelming.

Aviation, like boating, hiking, snowmobiling, gets you out to experience areas of our planet you may not get to any other way. Its not a charity, and no one should feel that GA pilots are hard done by, but it shouldn’t be considered a luxury pursuit for the idle rich.