A young entrepreneur is using social media to display all her community has to offer.
Amy Canadien, a salesperson, artist and outdoor enthusiast, launched Destination: Diamond Valley, a free Facebook site that features the stores, artists, people and activities in and around Black Diamond and Turner Valley.
“I have had this idea for years,” said Canadien. “It was this January that I finally decided to take the plunge after feeling there was a need to amalgamate the world-class features that the area offers into a sort of online magazine via Facebook.”
Several times a week Canadien posts various highlights and attractions in the area, including hiking trails, shops, artist and activities.
“We’ll be sharing posts from local hikers and naturalists, community arts groups, tracking concert events as well as local festivals, gallery openings, vendor and creative spotlights,” she said. “We’ll also touch on road and weather conditions, the best place to gas up, get camping supplies, tips on hiking the back country, safety. Basically, we are a tourist information site without the roadside building, but the coolest roadside information site ever.”
Canadien said the site was inspired by a social media discussion amongst local citizens and business people about the financial struggles local merchants are facing.
She hopes to change that.
“As January is a classically challenging month for the retail/service industry I decided to take my long-standing idea of having a page dedicated to enhancing the extraordinary people, events and landscape of the Diamond Valley (area) from the drawing board into reality,” she said. “I already run two business pages for local businesses and used the same idea to cast a wider information net for the area’s local creative.”
Working collectively to promote the region just makes sense, she said.
“You’ll sell more of anything with community engagement,” she said, adding that sharing posts, information and supporting one another is a great way to sell a product. “The page is strictly curated and I’m running it on a volunteer basis. I plan to get it on Instagram within the next week.”
Through Destination Diamond Valley, Canadien’s goal is to create initiatives that will interest both residents and visitors.
“For instance January is ‘Fan-uary,’ which is a call to locals to invite family and friends out and show them everything we have to offer so that when they get back home they build the buzz about how great we are,” she said.
“I also want to develop social media selfie stations in and around the towns by creating a narrative where existing features become fun backdrops for photographs.”
Examples include Turner Valley’s wooden-framed oil derrick, Black Diamond’s Country Food Mart AG Foods’ moose and the Okotoks erratic.
Even better than identifying selfie opportunities is promoting unique places in the communities for proposals, Canadien said.
“I’d love to see the big diamond at the Black Diamond town office become a place where people pop the question,” she said.
“I think it would be great fun for YYC romantics to take a Diamond Valley road trip with their beloved and surprise them with a wedding proposal right in front of the diamond.”
Canadien said these types of opportunities are already there, it’s just getting the community to help foster them to cement the area as a tourism destination.
Canadien said the Diamond Valley is a gem because of its unique shops, talented artists and beautiful scenery.
“It’s maintained its small town feel, even as we’ve experienced significant growth,” she said. “There are long-time locals who’ve created an atmosphere where creative endeavors are supported. Those locals have been generous with new additions to the town and it makes for a varied and exciting lifestyle.”
Turner Valley artist Mady Thiel-Kopstein was featured on the site in its first week. She said Destination Diamond Valley is a great way to promote the towns.
“There are so many artists around here and it would be terrific to have something that would attract people to the local area.”
Having this method for promoting the community year-round is beneficial to everyone in the area, said Thiel-Kopstein, adding there is plenty to promote.
“There is so much to do here in the winter as well as far as cross-country skiing and hiking all year round and the stores are open too and they need to have customers,” she said.