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Stanley Park coyote scare the latest hit to struggling businesses, operator says

Click to play video: 'Coyote attacks hurting Stanley Park businesses' Coyote attacks hurting Stanley Park businesses
Biologist Colleen Cassady St. Clair shares insight on what might be causing the increase in aggressive coyote activity in Stanley Park – Jul 18, 2021

The operator of a popular tourist attraction in Vancouver’s Stanley Park says the response to a string of coyote attacks is making a tough year even harder.

The northwest corner of the park was temporarily closed last week as the BC Conservation Officer Service tracked down and euthanized four coyotes after a toddler was attacked.

Read more: Four coyotes euthanized after toddler attacked in Stanley Park

It was the latest in more than 30 such incidents since December.

But Gerry O’Neil, president of Stanley Park Horse Drawn Tours, said many people had the mistaken impression that the entire park was closed, adding a hit to his already beleaguered business.

Click to play video: 'Touring Stanley Park through an indigenous lens' Touring Stanley Park through an indigenous lens
Touring Stanley Park through an indigenous lens – Jun 30, 2021

“I don’t think it was 100 per cent clearly laid out. At one point there were mixed messages that the entire park was closed,” he said.

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“That was the words — stay away from the park, period.”

The horse-drawn carriage only operates on the east side of the park, but O’Neil said he’s had several groups of seniors and children calling in to cancel, and many calls from people unsure whether the park was open.

Read more: Controversial separated bike lane returning to Stanley Park by mid-May

It comes during the second summer of COVID-19, in which tourism has cratered in the park.

“COVID was deadly to us. We closed for three months, and when we reopened we were at the most five per cent,” he said.

“We were starting to see a little growth, not much, a few per cent this year.”

Click to play video: 'Conservation officers euthanize four Stanley Park coyotes, looking for more' Conservation officers euthanize four Stanley Park coyotes, looking for more
Conservation officers euthanize four Stanley Park coyotes, looking for more – Jul 15, 2021

The company has been able to take advantage of the Canada Emergency Wage Supplement, but he said that money doesn’t cover large expenses like feeding the horses or paying veterinarians.

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The company, he said, was “hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars” in the red since the start of 2020, he said.

The Vancouver Park Board said Friday that trails in the northwest corner of the park had reopened, but warned that coyotes may still be in the area and urged people to report any aggressive behaviour.

O’Neil said he wants people to know the park is open, and that businesses operating there are hurting and need help.

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