TBM councillor called to provincial tourism task force

·2 min read

The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) councillor hopes to raise the tourism profile of the region after being called to join a provincial task force.

Rob Sampson, councillor with the TBM, has been called on by Lisa MacLeod, the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries to participate in a COVID-19 Tourism Economic Recovery Task Force.

“The intention of that committee is to provide the minister with a report on how or what she could take to cabinet as it relates to how to help the tourism industry and the tourism-industry-related businesses and areas recover post-COVID,” said Sampson during a TBM council meeting held yesterday afternoon.

According to Sampson, the task force consists of 19 individuals from municipalities throughout the province, including – Ottawa, Brockville, Niagara Falls, Muskoka, Windsor and Prince Edward County.

Sampson was asked to join the task force, acting in the capacity of a town council member of a tourism destination, in order to provide advice on the needs of the local industry.

“In the first two meetings we've had so far, I would say it would be helpful to bring our area a little bit higher up on the radar screen,” Sampson said.

“I think this is a huge opportunity to do that,” he continued. “The discussions tend to be dominated by Niagara Falls, Ottawa and Toronto and so to raise the profile, I think it will be very important for our area.”

The Tourism Economic Recovery Task Force is expected to provide a report to the minister by mid-April.

“The initial discussions were around things like…should we take a look at changing some of the liquor laws permanently?” Sampson said.

He added that the task force has created three sub-committees to better define various tourism areas within the province.

“One sub-committee to deal with what they call 'gateway cities' – primarily Toronto and Ottawa, another committee for towns that have an airport and the third being signature destinations,” he explained. “I'm pushing very hard to have somebody from this area brought into the subcommittee that deals with signature destinations.”

At the council meeting held yesterday, Sampson asked for the council's endorsement to participate on the task force and to create a local advisory panel to help inform him of all the issues he can take forward.

“I think it's a great honour for our citizens to have you there on this task force,” said TBM Mayor Alar Soever. “And certainly, we look forward to the results of this.”

Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca