Canadian CVBs say skies still clear for meeting planners

While an orange haze of toxic smoke from wildfires in Canada hovered over New York City, Canadian CVBs say that Québec City and Toronto remain relatively smoke-free and no events have been canceled in those cities.

“Few clients have made enquiries and most upcoming events are national and regional events,” said Emilie Belisle, assistant director and new communication officer, Québec City Convention Centre. She added, “We are monitoring the situation closely.”

In characteristic Canadian politeness-first fashion, Tara Gordon, senior vice president of global sales and services for Destination Toronto, apologized for the smoke coming to the U.S. from Canada but said, “As Toronto is significantly west of New York, i.e. right above Detroit, we are definitely experiencing the haze and the smell of the smoke, but we are not experiencing anything like the unfortunate photos we are seeing from New York. Environment Canada has issued a special weather alert for the Toronto area advising people with respiratory issues to consider rescheduling or reducing outdoor activities if symptoms are experienced, but otherwise it is business as usual.”

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In New York City, Major Eric Adams asked private groups to cancel outdoor events, however the Javits Center with its largely indoor convention and business space remained open. New York City Tourism + Conventions (formerly NYC & Co.), did not address the issue on its social media—perhaps with the prediction that the hazardous weather situation would resolve over the weekend.

However, forecasters predict that Canada’s wildfire situation usually is at a height in August. Early fires may have been caused by lack of snow runoff this winter—setting New York City and the Eastern Seaboard up for more air quality issues and wildfire consequences as the summer goes on.

Currently, the air in New York City has cleared somewhat from its hazardous status on Wednesday but city officials are still asking people to stay indoors and to wear N95 masks if they must go outside. Flights have been sporadically delayed at LaGuardia (LGA) and Newark (EWK) airports.

While New York City is new to the cost of wildfire smoke, the city can learn from the State of California. A recent study saw that California 2018 wildfires cost the U.S. economy $148.5 billion (0.7% of the country’s annual GDP).