I am proud to have been a part of the Victoria tourism industry for the last 25 years, and it has helped me raise my family, pay my taxes, put two kids through school, and given me a sense of pride in where I live work and play. Most of all, it has allowed my family to have a place we call home.
When I first arrived in Victoria in 1989, I was in absolute awe; the city was amazingly different and eclectic compared to my hometown. I was living on Menzies Street, and the thought of being able to walk out my front door and see the mountains was so foreign to me that I felt like I was in another world.
Over the next five years, as I started to become acclimated to my new surroundings, they became a little less unique, a little less remarkable, and it became almost “normal.”
Then it happened. I found my first job in tourism as a double-decker bus driver. I was still a relative newbie to the city, and this Company wanted me to showcase Victoria. I scrambled to read every book I could find on the history of this city. I talked to all the locals to get their experiences of life in Victoria.
I still remember my first tour and how I was almost overcome with nerves. The experience has stayed with me to this day. I stopped the bus at the Oak Bay Marina, and I saw one of my guests just staring, awe-struck at the mountains. I went up to talk with them, and they told me how they had waited their whole life to see the mountains from this side of the border. They were almost in tears. At that moment, listening to their story, I started to see the mountains the way I had seen them when I first moved here. I realized that I wanted to do something to make sure that my kids and their descendants would appreciate the same beauty and nature.
I continued my tourism career as a driver for over a decade and then managed several different tourism companies. I am proud to be the General Manager of Pacific Northwest Transportation Services (PNWTS), a company I can call my home.
We deal primarily with the transportation of cruise ship passengers. That’s right. I run a bus company that shows off our city. Like many others in the tourism industry, we have been effectively shut down since March 2020, and we likely will not be able to do the work we love and are passionate about until at least April 2022.
I have watched many people in my industry lose their job, and it is truly disheartening. I am very fortunate to be still employed. PNWTS is part of the broader BC-based Western Stevedoring, and Western says, “our strength is our people”! Everyone says that, but for Western, it is the truth! They have focused on best utilizing our employees during this difficult time and how we can make ourselves better for the future.
So the question is, what do you do with your team during a pandemic that shuts down your business? You look around, realize that things will get better, and find ways to plan for that better future. Our future is about our people, the environment, and our community.
I am so grateful to be leading a company with a team of diverse individuals from differing backgrounds who share a common vision with me. We have now written into our company policies that every employee will be paid a living wage no matter how many hours worked. I am proud that our Company introduced the 1st Electric Double Decker buses in North America. Unfortunately, since we brought these two electric buses to Victoria in 2018, they have hardly worked due to technical issues; however, we continue to forge ahead with the greening of our fleet. I am proud that our Company is an executive member of Hydrogen BC and is working hard to seek funding support to operate the 1st 100% Hydrogen Fuel Cell fleet of buses in Canada. I am thrilled that our team donates their time for so many community causes and donates some of our services to schools in Victoria. I am proud that we are Carbon Neutral.
Finally, I am most proud that I live in Victoria, I work in Victoria, I give back to Victoria, and that our team is doing their part to make our world a little bit better.
Pacific Northwest Transportation is not just a company; we are a group of caring individuals who live by our values, give back to the community, be the change we want to see in others, and lead the way forward. When we are finally able to get back to work, I want this community to see our buses go by and know who we are, what we stand for, and that when we make a profit, it will help fund the change we want to see in our environment and our community.
David Roberts, General Manager, Pacific Northwest Transportation Services