CANMORE – Over the next 10 years the Town of Canmore will do its part to implement a regional tourism strategy to create a sustainable industry that will benefit the economy, the environment and the community.
Council unanimously agreed to accept Tourism Canmore Kananaskis’ 10-year strategic plan for planning purposes during a council meeting on May 7.
The aim of the strategy is to make the Town of Canmore a leader in sustainable tourism by 2029.
“It’s important for us to identify the role in framing and managing tourism and outlining appropriate destination marketing in order to ensure that the tourism industry is aligned with our community values,” said Eleanor Miclette, manager of economic development for Canmore.
The 129-page plan includes 45 initiatives and 131 action items to achieve a triple bottom line approach that focuses on the social, economic and environmental impacts of tourism.
During the discussion council directed administration to put together a bridging document in order to implement the plan.
Council also directed administration to begin working directly with the tourism organization to create a round-table that will include a broad sector of the community, including environmental groups and civil society organizations.
“In order to move tourism forward in our region in a sustainable manner we need to engage more frequently and have a more unilateral conversation rather than in silos,” said Miclette. “Currently we have a round table that consists mainly of the business community, but it would be great to have voices around sustainability and the environment as we look at what tourism in our valley looks like.”
Mayor John Borrowman said he initially waivered on whether to simply receive the plan as information or accept the plan for planning purposes, but decided it was an important plan to support.
“I think it is important the Town is clear that we’re taking a lead role in the work that’s being envisioned under the strategy,” said Borrowman. “Accepting this strategy for planning purposes sends a very clear message that this is important to the Town and tourism is our primary industry.”
Coun. Joanna McCallum asked administration how the plan would ensure it has the social licence from residents to be successful.
Miclette said the key would be to ensure there is an ongoing conversation about the “tipping point” or the town’s capacity to handle tourists.
In 2016, tourism generated approximately $1.5 billion in expenditures in Canmore, Banff and Jasper, according to a report published by Grant Thornton LLP. In Canmore, tourism generated $344.9 million.
“I think it’s important for us to understand that whether we like tourism or not, tourism is going to happen,” said Miclette. “We know tourists will come because they want to be part of the beautiful environment that we have in Canmore and as a town we have to decide at one point in time either we help shape that process or we reactively respond to the impacts that it has on our communities.”