Council ponders Visitor Centre options

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
June 20th, 2012

The visitor centre issue piqued council’s interest, particularly as the museum committee continues to deliberate how to revitalize the future of the museum and the associated visitor centre.

Coun. Kathy Moore said the “skewed” data from just picking up museum traffic in the summer was “a real problem.”

“It would really help if we could have a more year round visitor centre,” Coun. Jody Blomme said, noting that Tourism Rossland and the Chamber take on the de facto role during the winter, but are not able to keep track of winter numbers and their location is not plainly obvious.

Blomme asked if a part of the library could be used, or somewhere else.

Mayor Greg Granstrom said, “We could get a report on that,” noting unspecified issues with the library, and the historical reasons why the info centre was passed to Tourism Rossland and the Chamber.

Corporate Officer Tracey Butler pointed out that Tourism BC has a contract with the museum that give it “rights” to the visitors centre and the museum subcontracts the role through the winter.

Coun. Jill Spearn was undeterred, however, and said, “We’ve had this conversation for quite a while. [The visitor centre] is not visible downtown, we don’t have a civic centre, and when tourists come through it’s hit or miss. Sure, they’ll end up in Tourism Rossland and the Chamber if they’re directed there, but there’s no visual presence downtown.”

Spearn asked about the library, saying “Why not?” and suggested she would like a report on a “higher profile” way to direct tourists.

“Maybe it’s at Red Mountain? I feel strongly that we keep having this conversation and say, ‘that’s the way it is,’ but we need to change that,” Spearn continued. “We need a better focus downtown. The Chamber is tucked and not visible. It’s a dead end down there.”

Noting that the Chamber’s location is limited by their budget, the mayor said, “we could give the Chamber more money to move to another place, but that’s another discussion.”

Coun. Cary Fisher recounted his experiences in tourist towns in Alaska, notably Anchorage with a “manned kiosk right in the centre of town,” with a “big sign.” He said, “A gateway project is important, but I’m not sure the gateway is the US border.”

“Where is the traffic coming from,” he asked, suggesting a study with a traffic count. “Lets look at what would be a proper gateway and ask, is it beneficial?”

Coun. Kathy Wallace had the last word, suggesting the bank managers office at the front end of the ground floor of the old Bank of Montreal building. “That’s the perfect location for a visitor centre,” she said, “It’s the right size, there’s a great opportunity right there. But it needs to start with the museum organization.”

Granstrom said, “Thank you, we’re working diligently with our corporate sponsors right now.”

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