An unusually large and beautiful Brugmansia suaveolens plant adorns Comox’s main intersection. Just don’t eat it.  |  George Le Masurier photo

The Week: Canadian snowbirds plan winter visit … no, not those Snowbirds!

Oct 8, 2020 | Commentary, News

By George Le Masurier

The snowbirds are coming! No, not the Snowbirds that cause chaos in the skies over the Comox Valley every spring. These snowbirds are much quieter and they’re coming in droves to Vancouver Island.

Comox Valley hotels and RV parks report that retired Canadians from Alberta to Ontario who usually go south for a warmer climate in the winter have turned their sights this year on Vancouver Island.

And why not? Florida or Mexico might have Vancouver Island beat for heat, but it’s not as cold as Saskatchewan.

Comox Valley RV parks and hotels that offer in-suite kitchens expect to be full this winter because the COVID pandemic is keeping snowbirds at home.

At the Cape Lazo RV Park, Steffany Martin told Decafnation that their spaces are normally fully booked, but there’s a slight difference in clientele this year.

While the RV park is getting a handful of new reservations from eastern Canada for the winter months, they are getting even more requests from Vancouver Islanders.

“There’s a lot of full-time RVers — and new ones, first-timers — out there who live here in the summer and go south for the winter,” she told Decafnation. “They’re staying close to home this year and have been since the summer.”

The Old House Resort and Spa General Manager David Rooper told Decafnation that he may not be able to accommodate all the demand this winter.

“Our travel partners and vendors who constantly assess the travel market patterns are all forecasting strong western-bound vacationers this winter,” he told Decafnation. “It is still early for mid-winter bookings; however, we now have less inventory to offer given early bookings by traditional key business contracts. Our summer and fall bookings have seen increased visitation from Islanders, the BC Mainland, and some interprovincial.”

 

Perhaps no local business has suffered more during the pandemic than the Comox Valley Airport.

In 2019, the airport transported more than 400,000 passengers, which was its second-busiest year on record. But from April to July this year, that number fell by 95 percent, with an equivalent drop in revenue for the self-sustaining entity.

Both Air Canada Jazz and Pacific Coastal suspended services.

The airport has stayed open to support WestJet service but the gift shop and coffee shop have closed, rental car agencies have reduced their hours and the volunteer program has been suspended.

A relatively small number of snowbirds from eastern Canada may fly into YQQ, but it won’t be enough new business to make up the pandemic’s catastrophic blow.

 

Have you noticed the gigantic bouquet of unusual yellow flowers at the public square on the Comox main intersection? It’s a spectacular living plant, but be careful, it’s also toxic.

The plant is a Brugmansia suaveolens, often called an angel trumpet and it is a member of the more poisonous nightshade family. It is now extinct in the wild.

According to Wikipedia, every part of Brugmansia suaveolens is poisonous, with the seeds and leaves being especially dangerous. While the sap may only be a skin irritant, ingesting the plant could be fatal.

According to WebMD, when taken by mouth, Angel’s Trumpet is unsafe. And the BioNET-Eafrine website says the use of B. suaveolens as a landscape plant is banned in some municipalities in the USA.

So, enjoy the beauty of its hanging flowers, just don’t try to eat one.

 

Archeologists have discovered an Ancient Canadian village on Triquet Island in the Great Bear Rainforest that’s older than the pyramids.

The village has been buried beneath nearly 10 feet of soil and appears to be around 14,000 years ago, thousands of years older than the pyramids, or ancient Rome.

The unearthing has been done by researchers from the Hakai Institute and the University of Victoria, with local First Nations members. Its discovery may shed light on the migration patterns of early human species, including how the first humans arrived in North America.

 

 

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