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Canmore approves terms of reference, funding for tourism task force

"Really what we want to do as a group is lead a robust community engagement process that helps us understand the history of tourism in Canmore and creates a meaningful and fitting vision for its future that focuses on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit – keeping in mind community, visitors and ecological impact. It is really a vision of tourism that is holistic and not just about the tourism industry but about the whole community." 
Canmore
RMO FILE PHOTO

CANMORE – The mandate of Canmore's newly formed tourism task force has been approved and council has also provided $80,000 to fund that work.

Council voted at its December regular meeting to approve the terms of reference and a new 2020 capital project for the task force to conduct community engagement on the future of sustainable tourism for the community. 

General manager of community services Sally Caudill went through the work that has been happening over the past two years to get council to this point. That includes accepting the Tourism Canmore Kananaskis (TCK) tourism strategy in 2019 and creating a council strategic priority to lead a community conversation on sustainable tourism.

"There has been a lot happening around tourism and sustainable tourism in Canmore for a while to get us to the point of having this task force and this terms of reference in front of you," Caudill said.

"The task force was really created to have a group of residents working and leading a community discussion. The goal is to increase alignment in the community around tourism and its role in Canmore. 

"Really what we want to do as a group is lead a robust community engagement process that helps us understand the history of tourism in Canmore and creates a meaningful and fitting vision for its future that focuses on the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit – keeping in mind community, visitors and ecological impact. It is really a vision of tourism that is holistic and not just about the tourism industry but about the whole community." 

Council established the task force in summer 2020 with its membership comprised of Councillor Rob Seeley, Mayor John Borrowman, TCK's executive director and 16 members of the public. 

Council also approved a bridging document that sets out the municipality's role in implementing TCK's tourism strategy and provided the organization with $54,000 in funding. Council also directed administration to negotiate a partnership agreement with the destination marketing organization, including providing public funding into the future. 

Caudill said that funding discussion is expected during the upcoming budget deliberations. 

She said the work has also reflected the fact that in 2019 council declared a state of climate emergency and that ties into the fact the major economic driver for the community is tourism based and requires people travelling here to visit. 

Caudill said the subcommittee established to craft the terms of reference, and respond to feedback from others on the task force, was focused on providing an open and inclusive framework, without prioritizing any one position or viewpoint over others.

"They really wanted to create trust in the community through this terms of reference and a willingness to engage," she said. 

The terms of reference sets out four objectives and deliverables, a timeline for the work and structure for how it will be accomplished and who is responsible for what tasks. 

Caudill said the approved $80,000 budget for the community engagement will allow administration to hire a consultant that will develop and help complete the project. The consultant will be chosen through a request for proposal process.

"The purpose for the funding is again to lead this community engagement process that generates broad-based and meaningful conversations around tourism and its role in Canmore," she said.

"The dialogue is meant to lead to a shared understanding of how a comprehensive and balanced framework for tourism can preserve the social fabric of the community; maintain, and where possible, enhance ecological integrity in the community; and continue to ensure the long-term economic health of Canmore." 

The work of the consultant will provide the community with the opportunity to engage in those important discussions and create alignment for future direction. Caudill said there are also funds to help with educational resources to help the task force members engage in this work. 

One of the outcomes from the conversation, said Caudill, is for the industry to gain community support – also known as the social licence to operate. 

"We want to work to achieve clarity around several items," she said. "Including the qualities that make Canmore unique; the things we want to make sure we preserve and protect into the future; embracing tourism opportunities that allow Canmore to thrive; harmonizing community needs and the needs of the tourism industry, so that one is not privileged over the other ... and ensuring tourism in Canmore contributes to the triple bottom line."

Caudill said at this point, administration does not expect to return to council with a final report or decision, but that the conversation itself is the "product" of this work. 

The aim is to complete the work before this council's term is finished in October, with a presentation in September on what was learned during the community conversation.

Council voted unanimously in support of the two motions. Borrowman said it is a critically important conversation for the community to be engaged with.

"I think the work we have done to date has been important and valuable, but it has been really introductory in nature and setting the stage," he said. "Now we need to start digging into the meat of the matter. Having a terms of reference is critical for working towards success."

Coun. Karen Marra said she appreciates the work that has gone into crafting the terms of reference. 

"It is a conversation we have looked to get started for a while now," Marra said. "I am happy to support this."


Tanya Foubert

About the Author: Tanya Foubert

Tanya Foubert started as a news reporter at the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2006. She won the Canadian Community Newspaper Award for best news story for her coverage of the 2013 flood. In December 2018, she became editor of the Outlook.
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