Canmore council took a first step last week toward contracting out economic development services to Tourism Canmore Kananskis.
Council voted to approve a memorandum of understanding and direct administration to prepare a formal contract with TCK to provide the service in 2012, effectively dissolving the Canmore Economic Development Authority.
The recommendation comes as a result of examining the relationships between the two organizations and a trial merger as many economic development and tourism initiatives go hand in hand.
In fact, the town accepted a tourism and economic development strategy last year, which manager of planning Gary Buxton said predicated the trial merger and recommendation.
“Both Tourism Canmore and CEDA are satisfied with the progress that has been made,” Buxton said, adding the expectation is that staff from CEDA will be hired by TCK.
TCK Executive Director Andrew Nickerson said the contract of services combined with the internal changes TCK has undergone over the past year means it is effectively a new organization.
“We have been building this around a three-year strategic plan looking at the benefits of a truly coordinated organization,” he said. “The real financial benefit of a merged mandate is in the economic development initiatives.”
Nickerson said TCK’s work will include core strategies of innovating and diversifying the economy and supporting and engaging businesses.
“Diversification is critical to the long-term future of Canmore and from a tourism perspective, if Canmore’s economy is not healthy, tourism is not healthy,” he said.
TCK will have annual economic objectives and provide quarterly updates to council. Business registry revenues will fund in 2012 an expected $280,000 with 10 per cent going into reserves.
Those reserves, said Nickerson, will be used for economic development specific projects.
The 2012 objectives for TCK under the new mandate include completion of the community branding project, development of the health and wellness sector, creation of a business support centre, expand monthly education and networking sessions and begin an events and festival development process plan.
Buxton said the objective of the contract will be to tie economic development to remuneration and achieving goals set out in the council approved strategy. That means if targets are not being met, the Town can opt out of the contract or choose not to renew it and council will also have a seat on the board. Business registry collection and services will remain with the municipality and the funds used to pay the contract.
The only perceivable issue with the new direction instead of merging the two groups, he said, is that essentially the Town is sole sourcing the contract instead of putting out a request for proposals.