Local business owners deserve support and respect, not ridicule
When I first met Kurtis Wyllie he had just moved to Sun Peaks. He and his wife were about to welcome their first child and I saw the spark in his eyes I’ve seen in so many people who have discovered the magic of Sun Peaks and been hooked.
He saw something missing in the village and started Sun Peaks Taxi.
As any business owner in the community knows, starting your own enterprise from scratch is work intensive and expensive but Kurtis dove in head first and opened last year with two taxis.
I was proud of Kurtis, and when we first wrote about his endeavour I saw what I’ve grown accustomed to from my neighbours, great support for someone who took a chance.
But over the last two years I’ve become increasingly disappointed by the response to the company as they worked out kinks like any brand new business does.
Staffing was a challenge, just like with any other business in the resort, and with limited staff and tight restrictions on hours driven per-day they tried to balance as best they could.
Other challenges were the huge costs associated with licensing and operating the taxis solely on in-resort fares of $10 to $20. To stay afloat and continue to operate they picked up longer trips to Kamloops, SilverStar and even Whistler. The fares from long rides sustained offering service to locals in the village.
This year Sun Peaks Taxi took over the contract for operation of the shuttle for Sun Peaks Resort LLP but also took the heat for the resort’s decision not to continue to pay for a shuttle into the later hours.
But as one of our own, someone who also loves Sun Peaks, has purchased property, started a family, enjoyed the outdoors and walked his dog alongside us struggled, I saw a more negative response develop.
While Kurtis slept, after driving for the maximum number of hours allowed in a day, nasty Facebook messages came in about not getting a ride home from a party at 4 a.m.
While he drove a family to Whistler and came back the same night, in an attempt to pay the vehicle’s insurance for the month, rude voicemails were left from those who expected him to be available.
While he shoveled out the cars after a record dump of snow, and all throughout the last two years, people who felt entitled to immediate service posted and commented on social media.
When a store can only temporarily accept cash due to a technical problem, people accept it, or even like it, as a quirky small town problem. When a restaurant’s last staff member gets injured skiing or can’t find housing and leaves and they’re forced to close for a day unexpectedly posts aren’t made blaming them for missing lunch. When businesses open late on a powder day, change their hours, or stock less in the shoulder season, or run out of our favourite coffee or crepe there isn’t anger or attacks. When SPIN is delivered a day or two late due to snowy roads or is less pages than we’d like because we sold less ads one month we don’t get emails, messages and voicemails. It’s all understood as a part of resort and rural life, a small price to pay for living in this paradise everyday.
But the same understanding was never extended to Sun Peaks Taxi as they worked long hours and late nights to make it work here, like we all want to do, and provide a service.
While we enjoy all the perks of living here it would be beneficial to be more understanding of those who are so committed to our community they take huge personal and financial risks to better it.
This January is the last month Sun Peaks Taxi will operate as such. After losing drivers and the other challenges it’s no longer possible to run the business as a taxi, only the shuttles will remain.
Instead of comments mocking someone who’s tried their hardest let’s remember to be kind to our neighbours, and if the bus is late due to record setting snow put the phone down, take a deep breath of fresh, mountain air and be grateful we get to call Sun Peaks home.