ECBC seeks input on strategy to attract, support major events
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-