Edit – I wrote this to highlight what I feel is the need to create a committee or have a stakeholders/public meeting to review the potential for tourism in North Grenville.
In 2017, the Economic Development Department did a complete review of all of their programming since the creation of the department. In the final report, it highlighted a number of still outstanding recommendations including two from the 2007 Economic Development Strategy prepared by McSweeney & Associates. Those recommendations involved tourism and were called “Tourism Development” and “Recreation, Waterfront & Agri-tourism Development”.
Under “Tourism Development” there are two points: 1) “Review, confirm and fully understand the tourism segments North Grenville can draw on: Sunday drivers, sports attendees, boaters, music lovers, heritage/history buffs, cyclists, nature lovers, etc. What is the demographic of each segment? What is each demographic looking for in a tourism experience?” & 2) “Review and document the current assets with the potential to draw tourists. Consider undertaking Premier-ranked tourism destination methodology, or a variation thereof”.
These two statements would appear to make sense. Gathering information before acting is logical. However, unless there is some kind of a committed group (that is invested in the outcome and has a sense of urgency) to conduct this research and then use that research, it could potentially end up being just another report that ends up shelved by Municipal Council for ten years like the above two recommendations from the 2007 Economic Development Strategy.
Forming a committed group would be seem to be a good first priority in order to move any interest in tourism forward. Sending a call out to potential partners to discuss common interests, common goals and to discover who is willing to commit to working together would be a wise first step. This should not necessarily be left to the Municipality to initiate. Any individual or organization could potentially step forward to start the ball rolling.
With the recent announcement of a new 74-room Comfort Inn and Suites Hotel ground-breaking happening this spring, now would appear to be the time to act. To date, a lack of significant accommodation space has been the biggest theoretical hurdle for tourism in terms of a willingness to commit resources. That challenge has now been addressed. Regardless, even without a large hotel, a proper tourism strategy focused on a “day-tripping” model, is a proven tourism model for areas situated beside larger urban centres like Ottawa (30-minute drive) and Montreal (two hour drive).
Rather than considering what new attractions or investments are needed to draw people to the area, it should be noted that we have a number of tourism assets already in place, that fit perfectly within a “day-tripping” framework. We are blessed with a significant number of agri-tourism assets, not to mention the natural assets we have including the South Branch of the Rideau River (Kemptville Creek), a large developing network of trails and our unique built heritage, some of which is on display for any who casually stroll through Downtown Kemptville.
A collective effort to organize and properly market these existing assets would go a long way to ensuring the success of tourism initiatives in North Grenville. Sharing information, pooling resources, pursuing funding opportunities and leveraging the skills and knowledge of individuals and organizations currently operating in the tourism field would give North Grenville a considerable advantage over other municipalities in Eastern Ontario that may lack the assets that we are so fortunate to enjoy, but have yet to properly leverage.
Tourism in North Grenville needs a champion. No cape or special powers are required.