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Wildfire smoke clouding out busiest weekend of the summer for rental businesses

Smoky skies have meant a drop in interest in outdoor rentals for some Metro Vancouver businesses. Trish Jewison

It’s a key date for many outdoor rental businesses in Metro Vancouver: the August long weekend.

But with haze from the B.C. wildfires blanketing the region, business isn’t as brisk as usual.

“We’re getting people from L.A… saying it’s a lot better than L.A.,” laughed Spokes Bike Rental manager Brian Vetter.

READ MORE: 911 calls for breathing issues jump as smoky haze chokes Vancouver’s air quality

The business is right at the mouth of Stanley Park, and is normally packed this time of year.

“It’s affecting some of the people, and we’re busy but we’re not super busy. This is usually the busiest weekend, B.C. Day weekend,” Vetter said.

WATCH: What to do when there is an air quality advisory

Click to play video: 'What to do when there is an air quality advisory' What to do when there is an air quality advisory
What to do when there is an air quality advisory – Jul 18, 2017

Metro Vancouver remains under an air quality advisory, and nearly half of the region’s air quality monitoring stations gave an unhealthy reading of “high” on the air quality health index.

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Air quality readings on Friday found some parts of Metro Vancouver were worse than Beijing.

READ MORE: Smokey skies bulletin expanded: Includes Whistler, Sunshine Coast, Howe Sound and Central Coast

On the North Shore, that’s translated into fewer bodies through the door at the Deep Cove Kayak centre, but manager Mark Darbyshire said it isn’t hurting the bottom line.

“We’re still basically sold out for our rentals, which is basically what we’d expect for this time of year. The biggest change is that there isn’t the intensity of the walk-in traffic that unfortunately we often have to turn away. But yeah, it doesn’t have the same intensity that our usual August long weekend would have down here.”

Darbyshire said they are advising paddlers who have concerns not to over-exert themselves. They are also allowing parents with kids in kayak programs to reschedule without penalty.

Smoke from B.C.’s wildfires is expected to persist until at least Monday.

Seniors, young children, and people with respiratory illnesses are advised to remain indoors and avoid heavy exertion.

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