The Prince George Spirit of B.C. Committee and 2010 Legacies Now hosted a two-day roundtable discussion, Tuesday-Wednesday, aimed at developing regional events and promotions to highlight the north during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Delegates from Prince George, Quesnel, Mackenzie, McBride, Smithers, Williams Lake, Fort Nelson, Dawson’s Creek, Terrace and Hudson’s Hope took part in the meeting. Spirit of B.C. committees are local groups formed to promote their communities to tourists and investors during the Olympic games.
“We’ve got 98 communities around the province working individually. This is [about] trying to figure out what projects can be more readily accomplished as a region,” Spirit of B.C. co-ordinator Allen Langdon said. “We’re in the same process with all the regions.”
Communities can access a $1 million fund from 2010 Legacies Now for Olympic celebrations and activities in 2008, to coincide with the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Next year is also the 150th anniversary of B.C., Langdon added.
For smaller communities, regional promotion may be more effective than each municipality promoting itself, he said. However, cooperation isn’t always easy.
“I think the desire is there. But they haven’t done it before,” Langdon said. “These people with all different backgrounds municipal officials, museum people, tourism people it’s a bit of a challenge getting them working together.”
Some of the initiatives discussed included: creating a Spirit of B.C. trail in the north; Spirit torch relays; developing a regional marketing strategy, brochures and DVDs; creating “northern passport” travel guide; a multidisciplinary “Tour de North” race; and greater synergy and cooperation between communities.
Prince George Spirit of B.C. committee member Mary Graydon said the Olympics are about more than 2010.
“We can use 2010 as a vehicle to develop tourism products,” Graydon said. “[However,] the Spirit committee isn’t going to develop a tourism product. We’re going to catalyse the activity. Our goal is to use 2010 as a catalyst to grow areas we’ve already identified as priorities.”