Crowsnest Pass council to restore Bellevue tourist hut

·2 min read

An iconic landmark off Highway 3 in Bellevue is getting a new lease on life.

Crowsnest Pass council unanimously voted in favour of spending $66,000 on the tourist information hut, $21,000 of which will go toward repainting the building and repairing the windows and deck. The hut’s roof will also be replaced.

The remaining $45,000 will cover summer staff manning the location seven days a week, starting from the May long weekend until the Labour Day weekend in September.

Council is collaborating with the chamber of commerce to provide staff.

Initially, council intended to use a mandatory tourism levy on accommodations to pay for the hut’s expense. Further review of the Municipal Government Act revealed only the provincial government can enforce a tourism levy, necessitating a change of plans.

Fixing the tourist hut, said Coun. Doreen Glavin, was about the municipality walking the talk.

“It should be fixed up and maintained, just like we ask our taxpayers to do that with their buildings and houses,” she said.

Mayor Blair Painter agreed, and added that spending the money now was the smart economic decision.

“If we don’t put any money into it this year, it’s going to cost us more next year,” he said.

The mayor also saw staffing the hut as an opportunity not only to help tourists find information about Crowsnest Pass but also to lend a hand in managing Bellevue Community Campground.

“I think there’s an opportunity to gain some revenues there from the camping that will offset the costs of running this facility and bringing it up to an acceptable level,” Mayor Painter said.

Spending the money to promote tourism, added Coun. Lisa Sygutek, would be a good way for the municipality to help local businesses.

“Businesses are struggling in this community, and the more help we can give to the people coming through to get them into the towns to use our businesses, the better,” said Coun. Sygutek.

Council also discussed another Bellevue landmark at the Highway 3 turnoff: the mother crow statue.

Prompted by a letter from a resident, council decided to put the statue’s replacement as a 2022 budget item. Repainting the Coleman mother crow was also added as a 2022 discussion item.

Exactly what happened to the original Bellevue mother crow remains a bit of a mystery. The last rumour chief administrative officer Patrick Thomas heard was that the crow was in a warehouse somewhere in Calgary.

“Maybe we should put something up on social media for ‘lost crow,’ ” joked Mayor Painter.

In a final item of discussion involving the area, council approved raising Bellevue Community Campground’s $15 fee to $20. The amount aligns with the province’s recently proposed fees of $20 per person for a three-day pass and $30 per person for an annual pass for random camping on Crown land.

Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze