Sports Tourism Strategy baseline report presented to Council
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Sioux Lookout’s Municipal Council was presented with the Baseline Report for the Sioux Lookout Sports Tourism Strategy during a special Council meeting on Nov. 13.
The presentation was given by Edward Hoshizaki, principal of Edward Hoshizaki Development Consulting.
“Today’s meeting was specifically on the Sports Tourism Strategy, which is an initiative that has been underway for a number of months. The outcome of this strategy, that we’re hoping for, is to provide recommendations on how to enhance our efforts to attract tourists to Sioux Lookout for recreation opportunities, so this is a broader strategy that will look not only at capital and infrastructure investments but also programming and other types of amenities that the community may need to look at to enhance our attractiveness to tourists,” said Municipal Clerk Brian MacKinnon.
“(The report features) Not only what should be included, but what’s already happening. Like many communities, volunteers are the heartbeat of our community, and there’s so many organizations and groups that are volunteer-run that provide such a credible value to the public at-large and to the community. We’ll also be looking at who are those groups, what are their needs, and what are their barriers to growth,” said MacKinnon.
“This study will develop a comprehensive strategy that will identify gaps in recreational assets and programs and recommend a promotional strategy in relation to tourism, and more specifically recreation-based tourism. A proactive program, with community partners will maximize the potential benefits from Far North communities. This report is a baseline assessment of the Sioux Lookout recreation and tourism capacity. Sioux Lookout’s community profile, trends in tourism, market analysis, and previous and discussed future options will be identified for discussion in the next phase,” the baseline report states.
A federal investment of $67,500, through FedNor funding, was announced on Jan.18, which enabled the Municipality to hire a consultant to prepare a detailed inventory of existing infrastructure, products and services, and provide a plan for the development of new sports tourism programming.
The Edward Hoshizaki Development Consulting website reads, “A project based consulting firm with a focus on community development projects in Northern Ontario. Using a team-based approach allows us to utilize expertise to match the project. Specializing in projects which impact upon Northern Ontario, we have experience working with municipalities, First Nations, small and medium sized businesses, non-profit corporations and individuals.”
During the presentation of the baseline report, Council had an opportunity to provide feedback and recommend changes in the report moving forward. Some of Council’s recommendations and comments included the addition of specific data as well as rephrasing specific statements in the report to help shed a positive light on the community.
“While Sioux Lookout is able to recruit young professionals to positions within the Municipality, retaining these individuals has been difficult over the long term. Some focus has looked at increasing the culture in the community, as culture creates authenticity and distinctiveness, attracting individuals not only for permanent residence, but also as tourists,” the report states.
“I think you could focus on the successes… Given the transient nature of the population, people come here to get work as young people. Many of them want to come, stay here for two or three years, get their experience, and go back home. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t think we should expect to retain everybody who comes here. You can create success if your expectation is 20 per cent of those people will stay… To expect everybody or half the people to stay is unrealistic. Again, it’s just phrasing and putting a positive light on it,” said Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance.
“Again, I’m making these comments because I look at it as if I’m a funder and I’m reading this; they want to see is this a progressive, successful community,” he added.
The Municipality confirmed that, as part of the process, the next stage will include public engagement, which will give the community an opportunity to provide input.
“What Council looked at today was the Sports Tourism Strategy Baseline Report. The purpose of the Baseline Report is to look at what’s the context, what resources do you have, who are your competitors, what are the demographics of your community, and so on and so forth. The next stage in this particular process will then be going out to the community to hear from the community in terms of what are your ideas, needs, goals, objectives, wants, desires, and all those types of things. From there, an actual Sports Tourism Strategy will be developed, which will actually have recommendations from Council in terms of what areas should we be pursuing and what areas should we be investing our time and resources into to grow and develop,” MacKinnon explained.
“Public engagement is part of this process. Typically you need to have something to present to the public. In the next phase of this study, it will be going to the public,” said Lawrance during the special Council meeting.
To view the entire baseline report, go to shorturl.at/gkuAQ.