Tourism needs a strategy
Stanstead is badly served by its MRC. They can say otherwise, but how many real new jobs has the Memphremagog Municipal Regional County really brought here in the last quarter of a century?
The organisation is so Magog centric that we wonder why the mayor bothers to show up at meetings. Industrial jobs, forget it. Services? As if the most bilingual population south of Montreal, acquainted with the US market from birth, cannot have a single call centre?
The real question should be why we are in this MRC rather than in the Coaticook MRC, but this is another fruitless debate. Back to our subject: Tourism We are in a unique situation, close to the American border with an average natural tourist offering. No fancy four star restaurant, not even an entry level motel and not even a ‘spa’.
Worst, what we could offer is nowhere to be seen. Between the Granite Museum and Butterfield, we may have one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the region. It would take a couple of million to do it properly, did we say expropriation? But the end result would be incredible for the town.
Next is burying the mess of utility cables in downtown Stanstead. This newspaper, always generous, is helping the town once again by providing a shortened link to the Hydro-Quebec web pages that propose government helps to do so: bit.ly/1O25AhV or you can click on the Qr Code. Since the publisher has been talking about it for twenty years, maybe someone will act before he dies.
What seems natural to us is foreign to most tourists: walking from a town in one country to another in another one.
Stranger still is walking into another country to enter a building located half in one country and half in another. That is, if the building is open! And during peak tourist season, it isn’t! The Haskell Library and Opera House close early on Saturday, and is not open on Sunday and Monday! It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Stanstead and the MRC and the Quebec and Canadian Governments, not counting Vermont and the United States, would be wise to furnish the Haskell with the needed money to open 7/7 from mid-May to mid-October.
It is almost foolish for private investors to put good money after bad in Stanstead if the town doesn’t wake up to the simple fact that, unless it spends money, there will be no revenues in the future. For crying out loud, there are traffic jams in Bolton during the weekend because a spa opened there! Downtown Stanstead is less than a minute away from an Autoroute and its dead! Any day of the week, another story we guess.
And the Granite Museum! Well, it has not aged well and as much as the publisher loved electric trains in his youth (Tri-ang to be exact, but you must have guessed that already), the link to granite is tenuous to say the least. As for a showroom, it has no place whatsoever in a museum that is properly curated. We repeat that the Granite Museum should be under the authority of Colby-Curtis who knows the ropes of the business. We also repeat that Colby-Curtis should get more help from the municipality and the MRC.
Of the latter, the less said. When it will spend a penny promoting Stanstead, we may talk about it. What we know is that, over the last few years, in its TV advertising, Stanstead was absent every year. Enough said it seems.