Trent Ernst, Editor
Mayor Wren, Councillors Caisley (chair), Mackay, McPherson, Snyder and Litster (via phone)
Councillor McPherson says he went out to Kinuseo Falls right after he read the story on the road to Kinuseo Falls. He said if he hadn’t read the story, he would never have guessed, and if he wasn’t being paid to do so, he wouldn’t have gone out. He says that grading isn’t enough. Mayor Wren mentions that part of the road hadn’t been graded that first week, so that might have been the issue, but he says that council needs to continue to lobby our MLA. Councillor Mackay says that being graded a couple of times is not the fix. Part of the road needs to be rebuilt, he says, and it needs calcium chloride to keep the dust down.
“I travel a lot of the back roads around here,” says Councillor McPherson. “The road to Kinuseo is by far the worst.”
CAO Barry Elliot says that Ken Klicach was out there on Canada Day, and he reported there were dozens, if not hundreds of people out there, big rigs and all.
Tumbler Ridge Marketing Strategy and Presentation
Tumbler Ridge’s new EDO Jordan Wall came before council to discuss the current marketing strategy and how it needs to change. “I know how important tourism is to this council,” says Wall. “This presentation is designed to show what we’ve done in the past and show where we haven’t done as well as we could have, and to propose significant changes to what we have done in the past.”
This is, says Wall, his first chance to speak to council as a group, so he’s looking for feedback on the idea. He hopes to inject the presentation with a lot of fun and energy.
He passes out a bunch of magazines and asks council to find the Tumbler Ridge ad. It takes about half a minute, but Mayor Wren finds the ad. Wall says that, according to the marketing strategy the District has been working on, the target market is short haul traffic from place like Grande Prairie. These people are younger, richer and there is a higher percentage of men than women. So the real target audience is young men with money, says Wall.
If that is the case, then what are we marketing to them, asks Wall. He pulls up the website. Twenty years ago, it might have been a magazine ad, but these days, people go to the website, and the website is … boring. It appears to be targeting old people. It’s text heavy. Why paint a picture with words, he asks, when we can just show a picture?
He points to the waterfall page. There are 1330 words on the page, no video, and only three tiny pictures that only show corners of waterfalls. The shot of someone jumping off Flatbed, he says, doesn’t even show the waterfall, so one can only hope there is water there.
“We need to sell the experience that you can have here,” he says. “And that experience is fun.”
Wall says that if our target audience is younger, they are often to be found on social media. “Are the ads you saw reaching this market? Not likely.”
He mentions that a lot of companies and organizations are using user-generated content to create videos and ads, and wants to start using social media to get people contributing photos and videos.
With the geopark proposal, now is a perfect time to be revisiting our brand. “Is it Lasting Impressions, or Playground of the Peace?” Well, it’s not the latter, he says, as Hudson’s Hope has that one, but the message we should be trying to get out is that this is a fun, exciting place with the possibility of outdoor adventure. “Leave Lasting Impressions to the Visitor’s Centre,” says Wall. “Their job is to bring them back. Our message to our market should be fun.”
He says that people in town are sometimes hard pressed to define what a Geopark is. People outside of town are even doubly confused.
But this, he says, is not a bad thing. In fact, he says, this is a good thing, because we can define the Geopark in whatever terms we want to. So he says we should have people asking the question: what’s the difference between a Geopark and a national park. And the answer is fun. In Tumbler Ridge, you can ATV, riverboat, snowmobile, hunt… all these things that are not allowed in a National Park.
Even if the Geopark proposal is not accepted this year, we can still use that to sell Tumbler Ridge, says Wall.
He proposes that the District change the website, stop advertising in magazines and move to direct marketing using the website and targeted billboards in the Grande Prairie Market, as well as changing branding to something that says fun.
Mayor Wren congratulates Wall on his first presentation. “I think you did a hell of a job there,” he says. “It’s great to see a congruent vision with what Council has been working on. You’ve outlined a plan that will get us in the direction we want to go.” He says that Wall tied in the Geopark in a smart way. Wren’s only question is: does he have the resources to do it? Wall says if we do stop magazine advertising, then yes. Wren says there has been a couple things that have come in under budget, so there is money, if needed.
Councillor Mackay says ever since the District started meetings with CDI, it was apparent we needed to do something to change the way we market the town. This, he says, is an exciting direction.
Councillor McPherson says that Wall’s excitement is making him excited again. He’s been through this before, he says, but this has got some interesting elements. “Comparing a National Park to Tumbler Ridge? That’s great.” He says that he went to Denali, and was on a bus looking out, and they said ‘isn’t it nice?’ But here, “you can get out and experience it.”
Councillor Snyder agrees about the energy. “I like the idea,” he says. “It’s fantastic.”
Councillor Litster says that she thought it was a great presentation, even without being able to see the visuals. She asks about a billboard in PG. Wall says that in the future, yes, but he wants to make sure they do it right in one place than to do a partial job in a bunch of places.
Elliott says that the Visitor Centre is noticing that the longevity of visits are increasing over the last few months.
“You’ve heard from Council,” says Wren. “You have our full support. Whatever resources you need, we want to get in place immediately. I don’t want to hear two months down the road that we couldn’t do something because we didn’t have the resources.”
Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society, Prince George
Siraj Ul Islam, Settlement Outreach Worker, sent a letter requesting a date be set for a visit to Tumbler Ridge to discuss potential collaboration. Mayor Wren says this is a service being offered to different communities. “I’m not seeing any costs, so I’m willing to investigate,” he says. Councillor McPherson says what we have been doing hasn’t really been working so he is interested in talking to the society, which most of the rest of the Council agrees to.
Worker Transition Feedback
The Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training would like Council’s response on the work that has taken place to date around worker transition efforts, however, the council received this as correspondence for information.
Communications Services Workshops
Council discussed the value in participating in communications services that are available to the District at no cost through Northern Development Initiative, saying that it would be useful to pursue.
Land Development Workshops
The District of Tumbler Ridge is invited to attend a Land Development Workshop, taking place in September in Taylor. Councillor McPherson says he would be interested in attending. Councillor Mackay says he asked the question last week about land that had reverted back to crown land, and there might be a chance through this, and would also like to attend. Mayor Wren says council should attend, but the Economic Development Officer would be responsible for executing on this, so he should also attend.
2014 UBCM Convention Meeting Requests
Council discussed which Cabinet Ministers they wanted to request meetings with. Mayor Wren says the District should request meetings with all the main ones, and Council can work out specifics as to who will meet with whom and what questions. Councillor Caisley says that, with the line up around the block, is it worthwhile to be there, but he thinks it is better to be there than not.
Councillor Snyder has a concern over water use restrictions. He says the town is putting in water metres for industrial, then there should be at least some effort to reduce or monitor water usage for the community. He points to some of the things Dawson Creek is doing to reduce their water usage.
Councillor McPherson says if you are going to compare Tumbler Ridge to Dawson creek, you might as well compare us to Phoenix. “That’s in a desert, if you didn’t know.” He says Tumbler Ridge doesn’t have the same issues. “We ask people to keep their lawns looking nice, and it’s crazy to ask for water restrictions when we haven’t had any issues. Sure, don’t water the road, but that’s ridiculous.” Councillor Mackay agrees. Councillor Caisley asks what the enforcement is supposed to be. Councillor Snyder says he’s not arguing for enforcement, just educate people that watering in the evening is more effective than watering in the afternoon, or that watering the road just isn’t effective. Mayor Wren says he doesn’t think that it’s Council’s role to create focus points around bylaws. “I don’t want to get into a role where council is directing the staff.”