November 8th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 45
Open house for Castle Region Tourism
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Vyk Harnett photo
Castle Region in Southern Alberta
Pass Herald Reporter
Business owners, recreationists and residents will be able to provide feedback and input as to what type of tourism strategy they would like to see implemented in the Castle region at an open house on November 9 at the Elk’s Hall in Blairmore from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Representatives from Alberta Culture and Tourism will be in attendance to answer questions and gather input from the public.

The Castle region is defined as the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and the Municipal District of Pincher Creek, including the Piikani Nation.

Interested respondents can also fill out a survey online at the Alberta Culture and Tourism website until November 19, 2017.

Feedback from both the open house and online survey will provide guidance on tourism development and inform the creation of the Castle Region Tourism Strategy.

“It is meant to be engagement with the community. We are taking into account the potential for economic development as well as the environmental impact. We do not have a pre-existing vision of what should happen there. It really is driven through our stakeholder outreach,” says Patrick Mattern, Executive Director with the Alberta Ministry of Culture and Tourism. “There are a lot of great ideas and we think that tourism in that part of the world offers a lot of opportunity, but it has to be cognizant or in relation to what people want to see in the area.”
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The Castle Region Tourism Strategy is anticipated to be complete by spring 2018 and will be used as a starting point for implementing tourism in the region.

“The intention is to come up with a variety of programs and services that we are able to offer and assist the community in development whatever that’s going to look like,” says Mattern.

Based on the results of the stakeholder engagement, Alberta Culture and Tourism will bring programming and workshops on a variety of topics to interested businesses, on topics like how to plan a large-scale event or the reality of seasonal tourism.

“The intention is not to go there once, but to be there for the longer term and work together with the region,” says Mattern, and adds that most programs offered by the ministry are free of charge.

Although no studies have been conducted to analyze the growth capacity of Castle, Mattern says that their mandate is sustainable tourism.
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“We have heard loud and clear that there is no interest or desire to see the recreation of a Banff or Jasper, but there is no perceived cap. It would be dictated by the local community and businesses as to what they would like to see,” he says.

The Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Provincial Park were created in February 2017 and came under severe criticism by OHV recreationists for the phasing out of OHV use within their boundaries.

Land use concerns are not the correct forum for the discussion of this issue, cautions Mattern. Land use is mandated by Alberta Environment and Parks and concerns should be directed to that department. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is operating within the Castle Parks Management Plan, currently in draft phase.
November 8th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 45
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