February has been busy for City Council with our annual Strategic Planning Session, a tour of downtown Moose Jaw and their new Mosaic Place where their WHL Team plays. We are in the process of sorting through notes and information for our Strategic Planning document, listing priorities and issues that we feel should receive the utmost attention throughout 2012 and which will be shared with residents as soon as finalized.
Moose Jaw boasts “the most tourist attractions per capita in Canada” and that was certainly the case. There have been magnificent strides in this small community to come to this point in their tourism planning. A look at the giant moose called “Mac”, the tunnels, the Temple Spa and the Snowbird Museum and it’s easy to see why Moose Jaw has become a tourist mecca on the Prairies boasting “close to half a million visitors each year to this city of 35,000”.
Moose Jaw, like Medicine Hat, lost major retail locations in the downtown during the 1980’s and the whole community suffered with that loss. Through task force committees and the municipal government’s commitment some unique designs and current attractions and its past history forged into a vision for a vibrant downtown core. Our Council believes this is also possible in Medicine Hat.
City Council and the Medicine Hat tourism industry providers are motivated to move tourism forward. We have many unique attractions and features and like Moose Jaw we have the ability to make them first-class. It will improve our competitive edge and help rebuild our economy by providing jobs and bringing in revenue from services. Tourism is a local and regional industry and in addition to drawing from tourism revenue, local and regional governments, businesses, industries and organizations need to support its development.
According to Travel Alberta and its Alberta South Tourism Destination Region 22.97 million people visited Southern Alberta in 2009. 11 per cent of those were Canadians outside Alberta, 4 per cent were American and 2 per cent from overseas and the remainder were “staycation” visitors. If 50 per cent of these people stopped in at Medicine Hat just to pick up a beverage for one dollar, that is nearly $12 million poured into the local economy.
Medicine Hat City Council, our business community and our residents all need to embrace or at least understand the revenue flowing into our community as a result of tourism related initiatives. I, for one, believe we can do it better and more effectively together. Support for the new tourism task force and its new Destination Development and Marketing Organization (DDMO) will go a long way to ensuring that like Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat can use its resources and people to attract visitors from all over the globe and do it with class.
Mosaic Place, has a capacity of 4500 seats, a curling rink, large restaurant and meeting rooms for rental. 21 boxes around the concourse were leased within 24 hours. However, lack of parking downtown remains an issue. The total cost of the $61 million was supported by $15 million from Ottawa, $11.5 million from the Saskatchewan provincial government and $11 million from local fundraising.
It is very obvious to me, that when a community wants to improve its status, it needs to work together. Like Moose Jaw, we have a chance to improve our City for generations to come!
Last updated: 3/2/2012 2:01:10 PM