British Columbia

B.C. Family Day moving one week later starting in 2019

B.C.'s Family Day falls on Monday, Feb. 12 this year. Most other provinces observe the statutory holiday one week later.

The statutory holiday will move from the second to third Monday in February, 6 years after its launch in B.C.

Vancouverites flocked to the seawall in Stanley Park last year to enjoy the unusually warm weather on Family Day. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

The B.C. government has announced that this year's Family Day will be the last time it falls on the second Monday of February.

Starting in 2019, the holiday will be on the third Monday of February, moving it in line with other provinces in Canada.

Earlier this week, John Horgan hinted the date would change. 

"Happy Family Day weekend everybody. It may well be the last one on the second weekend," Horgan told a crowd Thursday. 

B.C.'s Family Day falls on Monday, Feb. 12 this year. Most other provinces observe the statutory holiday on Feb. 19. 

The province has been an outlier since 2012, when the Christy Clark government passed into law that the province's Family Day take place on the second Monday of February each year. 

The Union of B.C. Municipalities passed a motion last year asking for public consultation to move it forward a week.

Tourism association opposes switch

The province's tourism industry had urged the government to keep the date.

The second weekend of February generates about $10 million for B.C. ski areas alone, the Tourism Industry Association of B.C. said last month in a letter to Horgan.

The letter was signed by 60 businesses and tourism organizations. 

"Having two consecutive weekends virtually sold out means that our industry benefits tremendously, especially during a time of the year where you're in the ski industry or have a resort," Walt Judas, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of B.C., said on B.C. Almanac

He said B.C. residents have also benefited from cheaper prices and lighter crowds. 

The third weekend of February — Presidents Day weekend in the U.S. — is one of the priciest periods as out-of-province tourists and Americans flock to B.C. 

The B.C. Liberals said it's "disappointing" to see the NDP government take aim at the tourism industry. 

"The absolute lack of consultation is a slap in the face to the sector," Liberal critics for tourism Michelle Stilwell and Doug Clovechok said in a joint statement. 

Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, praised the switch. 

"The misalignment of Family Day causes inconvenience, increased costs and lost opportunity for businesses of all sizes and in various industries," she said in a statement. 

"The economic benefit from this change will greatly assist our members, and especially small- and medium-sized businesses, across the province."

'It's going to be fantastic'

A petition backing the date change had gathered more than 22,000 signatures since 2015. 

Andrew Johns is a financial advisor who started the petition. He said the social impact of the change outweighs the economics. 

A student living in Alberta, for example, won't be able to visit their family in B.C. this weekend, he said. 

"If the whole spirit of Family Day is to bring as many family members together as possible, then logically, we don't all live in the same province and work in an environment where we can take this Monday off," Johns said.

His job in the finance sector has prevented him from taking the day off with his wife and kids. 

But the change means they can finally spend the holiday together, he said. 

"It's going to be fantastic." 

With files from CBC's B.C. Almanac and The Early Edition