By Frank Peebles
A final destination has not been announced as to where Barkerville’s tube run apparatus is going, but more glints of information are showing.
The Shamrock Tub Run was a popular off-season feature at the historic site, but it wasn’t winter El Dorado and it came with particular challenges that offset the benefits. It was closed and dismantled.
“While the tube run, installed in 2017, was a fun option for the public to use and for staff to run, it proved to be a liability in too many ways to justify its continued operations,” said Barkerville Historic Site’s production manager Stewart Cawood. “Insurance premiums increased and became prohibitively expensive based on assessed risks to public and staff that included consideration of Barkerville’s location 80 kilometres from a hospital with inconsistent ambulance service and frequently occurring poor-to-dangerous Highway 26 road conditions that consistently delayed emergency response. Barkerville’s extreme and quickly changing mountain weather conditions prove a challenge to the entire site year-round and falling trees during a summer thunderstorm damaged the tube run’s railings. Mounting inflation contributed to expensive price tags for emergency repairs and general maintenance. Barkerville’s staff are also a part of the BC General Employees’ Union, and BCGEU staff wage increases each year rendered staff costs increasingly high without the generation of increased revenue to pay for the wages. Income from the tube run was not consistent due to regularly occurring last-minute guest cancellations that also triggered cancellations of lodgings bookings and therefore associated lodgings revenue loss.”
The conveyor components, owned by the province, are now in storage awaiting a new home. One natural idea that has enjoyed public discussion is locating it at a facility like Troll Ski Resort which is still on the Barkerville Highway, but only about half the distance to Quesnel’s hospital and other amenities, has a similar recreation audience, plus presumably already has the necessary insurance and a different staffing model. A fundraising relationship also already exists between Troll and Barkerville. All of this is merely public speculation, however, and only one example idea of how the tube run equipment might still be used for local enjoyment and, ideally, Barkerville’s benefit.
“The tube run is a provincially owned asset, and the Province is currently in consultation with the Barkerville Heritage Trust to determine a viable solution for the Tube Run with the goal, if possible, of keeping it within the community,” said Cawood. “Provincial permitting will be required to facilitate any financial agreements and the moving of the tube run passenger conveyor both at the heritage site and the new location. The branch of the provincial government that oversees lift-based infrastructure, the Mountain Resorts Branch, would be engaged to ensure public interest in the asset.”
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