Tourism Camrose shares concerns
Tourism Camrose and City Center Camrose representatives shared a few of their concerns and marketing strategies with Camrose City council Aug. 7.
Tourism Camrose coordinator Hazel Cail said one of the issues that needs to be addressed through city bylaw or policy is the practice some businesses have of putting brown paper in the windows when they close.
"Somewhere we need a little help in taking a little bit of a hammer or a persuasion tool to the business owners to get them to make improvements on their storefronts," said Cail.
Cail also talked about efforts that are being made by Tourism Camrose to introduce tourism training courses in the high school.
"Tourism is an important industry and it could provide career opportunities for young people," she said.
Tourism Camrose member Audrey Pfannmuller said one of the problems facing City Center Camrose is a lack of funding to do everything it wants to get done, whether it is replacing broken garbage cans or installing more street signs that define its boundaries.
"We don't have a great budget and, unfortunately, over the years, that budget hasn't grown enough to allow anything big to be done.
"We certainly have to look at what tourism dollars are available."
Pfannmuller said it is hard to get some of the individual business owners downtown to make improvements to their businesses.
"Everyone is feeling the crunch. They don't want to put any money up because they can't visualize the difference it will make."
Pfannmuller said City Center Camrose has hired people to put together a concept for the marketing and branding of downtown.
"We are looking at branding an uptown Camrose. It is on a hill, it is uptown and it is in living colour. Everything we do in this particular area we do together."
Pfannmuller suggested events like a farmers' market could help draw people into the downtown area and make it a getaway destination like Canmore is for Calgary.
Councillor John Howard said he plans to raise at budget time the issue of City Center Camrose funding and the things that the City of Camrose can do to enhance the work City Center is doing.
"The fact that they can't put money into an account and build it up over time raises some issues. I am increasingly convinced that we are giving them a shoe string and asking them to build a shoe factory. We can have all the ideas in the world but if you don't have the money to make those ideas come to fruition nothing happens but a lot of frustration."
Councillor Brandon Blatz said while he would be open to hearing a big requisition from City Center Camrose it is important that council be careful and not put too much of the cost of improvements onto the backs of taxpayers.
Councillor Gerry Galenza said City Center could explore things like farmers' markets, more sidewalk cafes and food trucks, which the City of Calgary is limiting during certain times, as a way of drawing more people downtown.
"Canmore has a lot of sidewalk cafes and somehow we are missing out on that."
Galenza sympathized with City Center members over the difficulties they are having in getting downtown businesses to work together, saying that as a former business owner he experienced the same kind of frustrations.
Pfannmuller said that a lot of businesses don't see the advantages of staying open at night when there is an event at the Bailey Theatre.
"A lot of the business owners can't do it because they are only one person."
Cail told council Tourism Camrose was able to gain 20 new members this year after developing a brochure promoting the city's niche stores, particularly those downtown. She added that she takes coupons to trade shows in the spring which allows businesses here to track the different areas of the province from which their customers are coming.