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Businesses hope for summer

Folks in the cycling, ice cream and boating businesses all waiting for warmer weather

Mai Dossa is nothing if not hopeful that summer will eventually come to Burnaby.

Dossa is the main cook at the Ice Cream Parlour at the Burnaby Village Museum, and the recent spate of wet spring and early summer weather has not been conducive to patrons seeking ice cream.

"It's a little slow compared to last year," said Dossa. "It's not been super busy whenever the weather doesn't cooperate, but the sun did come out for Canada Day, and it is going to get better."

Dossa has been able to adapt, offering up hot chocolate and hot soups for people wanting to get out of the rain.

"We sell more than just ice cream," said Dossa of the fully-licensed full-service restaurant that serves lunch and dinner entrees. The parlour just opened an outdoor patio to try and capitalize on the fact that the sun should be out this summer.

"We're hoping that with the patio, people can come out and enjoy some great summer weather," said Dossa.

In the Burnaby Village Museum itself, marketing manager Nancy Stagg said business has been steady but with one big difference.

"Everybody seems to be enjoying more of the indoor events here," Stagg said, referencing the carousel and the museum exhibits. "We can't use our picnic tables with this (rainy) weather."

As for actual numbers, Stagg said they are down slightly from last year, but staff at the museum are remaining optimistic.

"The good thing is since we've gone to free admission. If it is raining when people are here, they can come back on another day when the weather is better."

Sharing Stagg's optimistic approach is Neil Davies, co-owner of Jubilee Cycles.

"In our business, you have the hard-core riders who ride year-round in all conditions," he said. "And the other part is the real recreational cyclists, who ride when the weather's nice.

"Last year was a horrible spring, and this year wasn't much better. That means we have a rush on rain jackets, winter fenders and other wet weather items."

Davies said his employees are busy right now as people bring in their bikes for tuneups.

"It's pretty steady," he said. "This business has peaks and valleys, and one minute we will be slammed, and the next, we'll have time to do some same-day servicing."

Not far from Jubilee, Artie Chumpol, community relations manager at Metropolis at Metrotown, is of two minds about the weather.

"Anecdotally, it has been busier in the mall on rainy days," she said. "But I really want to have the nice sunny summer weather."

Chumpol said the mall traditionally does well on both bad weather and super hot days.

"When it's cold, people come in to get out of the cold and rain, and when it's hot, we have air conditioning," she said.

Just down the hill, Hal Eremko is the head golf professional at Riverway Golf Course, and the wet weather is not what he had hoped for.

"No question, it's quieter when it's raining," he said. "What we do have is a heated, lit and dry driving range that people can go hit a bucket of balls at. - And we have a great new restaurant in the clubhouse, so people can get a good meal while they're down here."

Eremko said golf courses are at the mercy of the weather gods and any bad weather day during the high season hurts the bottom line.

"We budget for very full days, and the days are already getting shorter," he said. "We are lucky that we have very good drainage so people can play not long after it stops raining."

Dave Ellenwood, the city's parks, recreation and cultural services director, echoed that sentiment, saying Burnaby has a good reputation in the Lower Mainland for having the best golf course drainage.

"We are very playable in the rain," said Ellenwood. "We draw a lot of people from outside the city who know we have great drainage and very playable courses in wet weather."

As for the city's other recreation facilities, Ellenwood said bad May and June weather doesn't hurt the bottom line too badly because most kids are still in school.

"We're not concerned right now because the forecast is for better weather," he said.

"We're certainly due for some good weather."

Ellenwood cited registration at Camp Madawaska, just off the shores of Burnaby Lake, as being very steady and indoor activities, such as lacrosse and ball hockey being very good as well.

"Lacrosse is steady, but we've seen a surge in ball hockey," he said. "And the great thing about being indoors is the kids can come in and work up a nice sweat."

Sharing Ellenwood's optimism is Damien Liu, director of operations for Deer Lake Boat Rentals. Despite admitting that this year has been one of the wettest in the 13 years he's worked at the lake, Liu said the bad weather is only an inconvenience for his employees and loyal customers.

"It's probably toughest for our employees because when it rains, they don't come in to work," he said. "And if they're work-ing and it rains, they have to shut up (the shop), and then we decide when to open up again."

As for his customers, Liu said the bad weather only delays their boating fun.

"The good thing about Deer Lake is we have a lot of loyal, local customers," said Liu. "As long as we have one sunny day, we don't lose people. When the sun comes, we get really busy, really fast. - In reality, our season starts in mid-July and from then on, we're busy every single day."

Liu estimated that in June, the business lost more than 10 operating days because of the inclement weather, but his staff are unfazed.

"We're all pretty upbeat. You can't control the weather. We know the sun (will) shine, and not only are we hopeful, we're more than hopeful. We're confident that things will be very good this year because in our business. This is something people want to do. They've done it for years, and they'll keep on doing it."

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