Diana Stirling, owner of LocoLanding Adventure Park, is speaking out after one of her teenage staff was brought to tears by a customer who berated her for enforcing the park’s mask policy on Monday (May 31).
“Yesterday was one the hardest days in our business. We were blasted in person and online for our mask policy, over and over,” said Stirling.
“One mom made my staff break down and cry — all because her six year old can’t go on one one of our attractions unless she wears a mask.”
This fell on the same day LocoLanding donated its proceeds to IRSSS (Indian Residential School Survivors Society) with many staff wearing orange shirts.
Stirling owns LocoLanding, Lickity Splitz and the Peach ice cream stand and is co-owner of Coyote Cruises. In 20 years of being a local business owner she has employed innumerable Penticton youth.
Since LocoLanding’s opening in May, Stirling says she has been called shameful, ‘a Nazi’, a Human Rights violator and that she is ‘abusing children’ for her mask policy.
“It’s awful behaviour and it’s relentless,” said an emotional Stirling. “They don’t stop. When it starts impacting our staff who are all teenagers, it becomes very personal. We’ve been attacked from opening day but lately it has reached a peak.
In order to open during COVID-19 restrictions, LocoLanding has had site visits from Interior Health and WorksafeBC.
“Last year, we could only open half the park. This year, in order to open the whole park we had to have a unique and specific COVID safety plan to ensure our staff and guests are protected,” explained Stirling.
“The alternative is not to open at all. We have worked so hard at being inclusive and bringing a positive experience for our guests and for this behaviour to be acted out by parents in front of their children is not OK. Enough is enough,” she said.
Those offended by the mask requirements have taken to spam LocoLandings’ Google and Facebook review pages.
One reviewer said LocoLanding ‘is trying to kill children’ by forcing kids to wear masks in hot weather, calling masks a ‘fake mandate.’
Stirling said she feels for all small businesses owners working day in and day out to navigate this pandemic safely.
“We are so close now to getting back to normal. Why can’t they just wait to visit us or choose not to visit at all if they don’t like the mask policy?,” she said. “We do what’s needed to ensure the best experience. We hustle, backing our staff and pivoting throughout the course of the season,” she said.
To report a typo, email: email@example.com.