County ready to lead tourism charge

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County appears to be ready to lead the charge to promote and develop tourism in the region.

At its regular meeting May 23, council opened the door to be the leader under the Big Lakes County Economic Development Authority.

“We can come up with our own plan for the region,” Reeve Ken Matthews says.

“We have projects we could work on.”

He shared the view after deputy CAO Jordan Panasiuk states that the Lesser Slave Lake Economic Alliance has taken steps to dissolve as a economic development alliance.

“We want to initiate partnerships and we could initiate a meeting with anyone interested,” Matthews says.

The action stemmed after council rescinded a tourism policy that was adopted in 2008 and not updated since.

The old policy states that the municipality maintain its membership and financial support for Big Lakes Country Tourism, which has not existed for many years, states a report from Panasiuk.

Previously, Big Lakes was a member of the LSLEA until 2015 when council decided to pull out at its regular meeting Aug. 26.

Currently, the county is also a member of Peace Regional Economic Development Alliance.

The remainder of the old policy focused on general principles that reinforce Big Lakes County’s views on tourism.

Under the old policy, the county “recognizes that the development of a strong tourism industry within the municipality will positively impact upon the council’s ability to create a prosperous, diverse and sustainable economy for the benefit of all residents”.

The policy encouraged local community organizations to host events that promote the region as a tourist destination and the region’s history and culture.

A plan to boost tourism and campgrounds was set last December as a top priority for the Big Lakes Economic Development Authority for 2018.

Under the plan, the county intends to create a tourism task force that would work with Tourism Alberta and Travel Alberta to first conduct a visitor-friendly assessment, run a tourism entrepreneur workshop series and develop a tourism action plan.

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