Hollyhock minimum wage increase ‘falls short of living wage’: CEO

A cedar bathouse with solar heated water on the roof perches against garden.
CEO of Hollyhock Peter Wrinch says the business balances infrastructure and employees. Photo by Loni Taylor.
Loni Taylor - CKTZ - Cortes IslandBC | 08-05-2023
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Hollyhock Learning Center will be raising its starting wages from $17 to $18 this year as they open this spring for the 2023 season, yet fails to meet regional living wages. The current living wage for the Cortes Island area is around $20.26, according to Living Wage For Families BC. This announcement follows a news update in March when Hollyhock was awarded a $500k grant to renovate spa infrastructure.

CEO of Hollyhock Peter Wrinch acknowledges the challenges of reaching the living wage standards while balancing the need to maintain infrastructure. The CEO also points to the four-decades-long struggle of seeing the island as a year-round destination, not simply a seasonal one.

“So the other thing that's been real for Hollyhock over the 41 years of business is the limitations of it being a seasonal business. How do we deliver our programming, employment meal services, retail year round," Wrinch said. "How do we do that? And much smarter people than me have been trying to figure this out for 40 years.”

Hollyhock is listed by the BC government as three separate entities: a for-profit tourism attraction called Hollyhock Farms; a not-for-profit educator called Hollyhock Learning Center; and Next Wave Foundation. The foundation has been a certified charity with the CRA since 2001, with a board that governs all the Hollyhock entities. According to Wrinch, Hollyhock sustained three years of deficits during the pandemic. He elaborated on the fiscal state of the organization, saying “it's a break even-charitable not-for-profit most years.”

To learn more about Hollyhock’s operations on the island, listen to the CKTZ News Update below: