Maple Ridge splits on tourism

Ends partnership with City of Pitt Meadows, after rec partnership also ended

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows should no longer be partnered in tourism, advises from Maple Ridge city staff.

Lino Siracusa, the new manager of economic development, prepared a report advising Maple Ridge council to allow the Tourism Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows contract to expire at the end of December. He said a breakdown of the tourism society’s budget reveals that only $8,100 of the $35,000 contribution from Maple Ridge is spent on marketing activities, while the rest covers payroll, administration and operating costs.

“Activity at the existing Visitors Information Centre located at Harris Road is of little if any value, as the vast majority of visitors obtain information online and through social media sources,” Siracusa said in the report.

In an interview, he went further, and called a visitor’s centre “an antiquated approach,” particularly because travelers have to get off the Lougheed Highway to visit it.

“We think we could use that $35,000 in a better way,” he said.

“We will be able to get significantly more marketing out of that.”

Last week, Maple Ridge announced it would be terminating its partnership with Pitt Meadows in another area – parks and recreation services.

Kristina Gervais, the executive director of the tourism office for the past five years, said she was surprised that Maple Ridge will not renew the agreement.

“We’ve had nothing but praise for the work we have done,” she said.

That work is tourism marketing, attracting visitors, public awareness, operating the visitor’s centre and establishing an online presence. It is financed by both cities contributing $35,000 each, and the province funding another $10,000.

She said social media and the online presence are more important than the visitor’s centre. The centre had 11,000 visitors last year, which is not insignificant, but the Facebook Page has 3,700 followers, and the website has had 90,000 visitors in the last 12 months.

So she disagreed with putting an $8,100 price on the services the tourism society provides.

Gervais said the tourism society joins with four other municipalities in the Circle Farm Tour, so its $4,000 contribution is leveraged into $50,000 worth of promotion. Similarly, a $1,000 contribution to the Scenic 7 promotional program about Lougheed Highway communities results in $30,000 worth of promotion.

“They get pretty good bang for their buck,” she said. “We’ve worked hard to build partnerships, because we know their value.”

She said tourism is a $12 billion industry in B.C.

“So there are a lot of government organizations that like to help tourism groups succeed.”

Maple Ridge will handle tourism “in-house,” but Pitt Meadows is left at a crossroads.

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker said he plans to meet with Gervais later this week to get her perspective.

“We’ll have to take a look at what we can do to facilitate economic development here in Pitt Meadows,” he said.

Coun. Bill Dingwall was critical of Pitt Meadows for the parks and recreation deal being cancelled, and blames public criticism of the 18 per cent salary increases for senior parks and rec staff for causing a rift.

He said these cancelled partnerships are symptoms of a damaged relationship between the two cities.

Becker rejected that.

“I disagree with his assessment,” responded Becker. “You have two new councils look at the old ways of doing things. Those ways make sense in some areas, and not in others.”

He characterized the relationship as changing, not deteriorating.

On Thursday, the two cities will discuss their partnership in managing the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport. Pitt Meadows previously asked Maple Ridge to step away from running the facility, but the later refused.

The Pitt Meadows Airport Society is allowed to hold its meetings in private. Becker will not attend the meeting due to a conflict. He declined to say what is on Thursday’s agenda, other than that the two sides will continue to operate the airport that benefits Pitt Meadows and the region.

Pitt Meadows Coun. Tracy Miyashita says a healthier political relationship between the two cities would see its partnerships continue.

“I just think there’s so many benefits to doing these things together. It’s sad,” she said. “This is all about the communication and relationship, and, in the end, I think it’s our communities that suffer.”

She said there is no doubt the two communities can provide services separately, but said “we’re stronger together.”

“We need to set egos aside, and work together for the good of our two communities.”

Coun. Corisa Bell, who is on Maple Ridge’s economic advisory commission, said she expected the tourism breakup to be endorsed by council Tuesday.

But she denied the decision was political.

“Absolutely not. This is more a conversation of how we can review the effectiveness of our tourism dollars.”

She said Maple Ridge’s situation has changed, because Siracusa brings new insights into how to market the city, and because Pitt Meadows’ population will essentially peak at 22,000.

“They are capped. We’re going to continue to grow for many years.”

Siracusa said his report is based on the merits of the partnership.

“It’s reviewing how our $35,000 is being spent, and can we get a better bang for our buck.”

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Dalton takes riding for Conservatives

Says he personally knocked on 10,000 doors in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge

NDP candidate proud of campaign

John Mogk hopes supporters find hope and courage to fight another day

Thousands raised at Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation gala

Theme this year was Singin’ in the Rain

Mounties nab suspected break-in bandit after Pitt Meadows incident

A multi-jurisdictional investigation leads to the arrest of a Port Coquitlam man

Halloween Howl to kick off festivities in Maple Ridge

Norman Foote concert with Yennadon elementary choir

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Police watchdog seeking ‘key witness’ in Taser incident along Vancouver seawall

Independent Investigations Office of B.C. looking for woman who was sitting nearby with dog

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Most Read