Whenever government gets involved in the realm of the business and volunteer community we shudder.
And we believe Sylvan Lake residents should be shaking in their boots about what’s coming down the road as far as the town’s proposal to create a Corporate Tourism Strategy is concerned.
A contract was awarded by councillors at Monday night’s meeting, but just narrowly with four voting in favour and three voting against.
One of the sticking points for Councillor Laverne Asselstine was that this is just the beginning. An auspicious beginning at that since the project budget was tripled from $20,000 to $60,000. What that gets, he rightly noted, is a plan for more expenditures next year.
Councillor Ken MacVicar made some good points too. We’re already attracting thousands and thousands — the much used estimate is one million people — annually. So do we want to attract more?
We know many residents who won’t venture downtown or to the beach in the summer because of the crowds.
We question, as well, Mayor Susan Samson’s comment that too many of those one million people aren’t spending money in our community and thus our businesses aren’t benefitting. This despite over $20 million spent on improvements along the lakeshore.
Is that something the town should be trying to correct? We believe businesses should be doing more themselves and co-operatively together, if they’re concerned about their sales.
But then we read the request for proposals for the Corporate Tourism Strategy.
We may be wrong, but it looks to us like the strategy is to examine tourism activities currently undertaken by the town itself — things like the Pond Hockey tournament that’s organized by town staff.
The project description states: “A full review of current Town of Sylvan Lake tourism activities and promotions is required with a resulting draft Tourism Strategy that will direct the Town in its tourism activities and promotional activities. The Strategy will identify key audiences and their associated key messages and should provide the Town with a detailed description of actions and tactics to improve the audience’s awareness of tourism in Sylvan Lake and the value of the tourism activities and opportunities the community has to offer. A key component of the Strategy will include how to engage residents to understand the value that a strong tourism base brings to the community.”
Sounds like besides determining whether or not town staff should be organizing more activities to draw tourists, the strategy is also meant to convince taxpayers that more tourism is good for Sylvan Lake.
If the strategy was meant to attract more tax paying businesses to town there might be some benefit to residents who are the majority of the people footing the tax bill — but we don’t see that. We see the town stepping into the arena where businesses and non-profit organizations should be spurring growth.
Of course, businesses will be content to sit back and let someone do the work for them. Then they’ll reap the benefits with many not even offering a thank you.