Move to Black Diamond requested for visitor centre
Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014 08:33 am
Tourists eager to experience the foothills may be stopping in Black Diamond to get the information they need.
The Diamond Valley Chamber of Commerce is hoping the small community of more than 2,000 residents will become home to its Visitor Information Centre, currently located in Turner Valley.
Chamber president Sandra Wiebe approached Black Diamond council during its regular meeting on Jan. 15 to ask permission to relocate the small building to a parking lot at Centre Street and First Street S.E. Wiebe said the hope is the Town will cover the lease, permit fees and costs associated with preparing the site including supplying water, sewer and electricity.
“Signage is a problem, washrooms are a problem, the situation of the building itself is a problem,” Wiebe said of the centre’s current location. “In order for it to get accredited we have to have a washroom. It’s not possible where we are. We are looking for a long term solution now.”
Wiebe said portable washrooms are rented or visitors are directed to the nearby Sheep River Library because sewer and water aren’t available at the centre’s current location.
Once accredited by the Alberta Visitor Information Providers the centre can be included on maps and promotional material across Alberta, but first it must have washroom facilities.
Another issue with the existing location is the building is set back on the property along Highway 22 and not easily visible for those passing through, she said.
With the proposed location, Wiebe said visitors traveling west on Highway 7 will see the building before reaching the four-way stop.
“We looked in both communities for an adequate location,” she said. “We even looked at a spot between the two communities. There is a lot of traffic coming to the four-way stop. We can catch them there before they move on.”
If approved, Wiebe said the chamber will cover expenses to move the building, landscaping costs, staff wages, utilities and construction of the bathroom.
“We would love to be open for the upcoming season in that location, which is usually the May long weekend,” Wiebe said. “The physical move is pretty simple. The building is on skids. We just unplug it and go.”
Black Diamond Mayor Sharlene Brown said before making a decision the Town will have to work with the chamber to create an operation, business and capital plan to determine the long-term costs for the Town.
“We are excited about the possibility, but there needs to be some research and work that needs to be done on that,” she said. “It’s not just something you pick up and move. It’s all the other pieces that go with it.”
If the requested location is approved, Wiebe said Turner Valley won’t be left out. Satellite locations will be established in the community to provide information about services in Turner Valley and surrounding area, she said.
Wiebe said she also spoke with Black Diamond’s economic development and events coordinator David Petrovich, as well as the town planner, to determine if the project is something council might consider.
Petrovich provided a letter of recommendation to council in support of the proposal.
“It’s conducive to having visitors stay in town,” he said. “Once someone exits their vehicles they are more likely to run around and see what’s there. It becomes a reason to stop.”
Petrovich said the move will allow the addition of a washroom, which is also a benefit to residents. Having a visitors centre in the community also increases the chance of tourists stopping in town and checking out the local shops and restaurants, he said.