ECBC seeks in­put on strat­egy to at­tract, sup­port ma­jor events

Cape Breton Post - - COMMENT - BY TOM AY­ERS

The pro­posed strat­egy will in­clude es­tab­lish­ment of an ad­vi­sory group and dis­cus­sions on tourism ca­pac­ity around Cape Bre­ton and in­dus­try best prac­tices to en­sure pro­fes­sional pro­duc­tion and man­age­ment of an­nual events such as Celtic Colours and the Vince Ryan hockey tour­na­ment, and one-off events such as the East Coast Mu­sic Awards.

To de­velop the strat­egy, ECBC will hold meet­ings Mon­day at 10 a.m. in the se­niors’ hall in Cheti­camp, and 2:30 p.m. in the Shan­non Room at the Port Hawkes­bury Civic Cen­tre; Thurs­day, 2 p.m. at the In­ver­ary Inn in Bad­deck; and Feb. 12, 10 a.m. at the Joan Har­riss Cruise Pavil­ion in Syd­ney.

Lan­g­ley said stake­hold­ers are be­ing in­vited to dis­cuss ex­ist­ing events, fa­cil­i­ties and ca­pac­ity, and the pos­si­bil­ity of at­tract­ing or sup­port­ing new events.

He said ECBC has hired an econ­o­mist and one of the cri­te­ria for sup­port­ing events will be get­ting the big­gest bang for the bucks in­vested and mak­ing sure the money is spent wisely.

“ We don’t want a top-down thing from here, but what’s driv­ing it is trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity,” said Lan­g­ley. “ We want to mea­sure eco­nomic im­pact so we, ECBC, know we’re back­ing the right horses.”

Lan­g­ley also said in the past the agency has not set a bud­get for sup­port­ing ma­jor events, but de­vel­op­ing a bud­get will be part of the strat­egy’s aim.

And, he em­pha­sized, ECBC is not start­ing out with a list of win­ners and losers.

“ We want them all to be win­ners,” he said. “Some are in su­per shape and oth­ers need tweak­ing.” INGONISH — Paul Mahre, a for­mer mem­ber of the U.S. na­tional ski team, hopes to buy Ski Cape Smokey from the Nova Sco­tia gov­ern­ment to de­velop into a year-round re­sort.

Mahre has been strug­gling to find fi­nan­cial back­ers to in­vest in his am­bi­tious plans for the north­ern Cape Bre­ton ski hill, which has been closed for sev­eral years al­though it boasts breath­tak­ing ocean scenery as well as the high­est vertical drop and long­est run in Nova Sco­tia.

The Ski Cape Smokey So­ci­ety, which is manag­ing the ski hill while try­ing to find a buyer, is hop­ing Mahre’s plans suc­ceed. Mahre had sub­mit­ted a bid in 2008 that was ac­cepted by the so­ci­ety, with­drew it last year both be­cause there were no in­vestors on the hori­zon and for some per­sonal rea­sons but has been re­vis­ing it re­cently while seek­ing in­vestors in Canada and the U.S.

“I am re­work­ing it, try­ing to scale it down a lit­tle bit . . . try­ing to de­crease the bud­get and am looking for po­ten­tial in­vestors again,” he said Tues­day. “ That’s where we are right now.”

“ Ski ar­eas are a very niche mar­ket. You could call them a bou­tique in­dus­try. They take a lot of courage and risk to get go­ing.”

Ski Cape Smokey would be a year-round busi­ness of­fer­ing ac­tiv­i­ties like moun­tain bik­ing, hik­ing, alpine slid­ing, in which peo­ple would ride carts down the ski hill, zip lines which of­fer raised tree-top level hik­ing walk-

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