Area tourism being hurt says Tourist Association head
October 8, 2013
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John Miller, head of the Port Elgin Tourist Association, aired his concerns at the on-going Joint Review Panel hearing on the proposed deep geologic repository (DGR) on Tuesday, October 8 (2013) in Port Elgin.
According to Miller, the Association of 40 years has a very simple creed, "We promote the town of Port Elgin to keep the tourist industry alive, we stand for the beautification and betterment of our community, create fellowship and understanding within the association and to play an active part in all community functions aimed at attracting tourism."
Miller said that, to this point, the Association has been disappointed with some statements that have come from other groups concerning tourism.
"I believe that some of these (groups) are attempting to use our tourism to justify their opinions and they do not seem to have an understanding that the best thing we can do for our tourism is to have a strong, active and friendly community for people to come and enjoy."
According to Miller, tourists don't ask 'why' there is a beautiful beach they just want it. Most Association members are very hands-on with their businesses and meet and greet people every day.
"The unfair stories and reporting that we have heard from these groups have created a less than friendly atmosphere in our town," said Miller, "and that is for sure."
"Even as the hearings started," Miller pointed out, "the stories that the OPP were being used to influence the hearings is simply ridiculous. I, too, had a call from the OPP and found it only to be helpful. Those clearly not in favour of the plan used it as an opportunity and a way to create negativity for the process."
Miller went on to say that a long-term storage plan is a necessary on-going part of the operation for the production of power. "That is what we are talking about ... a better and safer way to accommodate waste. From the time the idea was talked about a number of years ago, we have worked to keep ourselves informed. We asked questions, we went to Open Houses, we talked to our friends and neighbours."
"In our business," added Miller, "it's not only important for ourselves but for our customers to know not just how to get to the best beach in the area or where can I get dinner, but 'what is the story behind all those yellow signs'? "
Miller pointed out that people always have questions and concerns and, most lately, it has been about the signs. "We try not to look at this is a bad thing," he explained, "and given an answer they are happy to go on about their business and enjoy themselves."
One of the difficulties that comes with this (DGR) process, according to Miller is that when given an answer a minority of people simply choose not to believe it. "That, then," says Miller, "becomes a story, this is what the tourist hears and ... this is where our tourism is being hurt."
"We believe the process not only needs to be fair to all involved," Miller said, "but also needs to have a timeline for resolution. It would be a real shame in our eyes to spend months and months going around in circles, talking about things over and over on a project that may never happen. If it does happen, then we look forward to the opportunity to move forward working with our partners and OPG as we always have."
Miller said that the area has always had and continues to have great tourism with nuclear as a good neighbour. "A new way of storage will not change that. There are risks as expected with a project this size but they can be handled."
"At this point," he added, "with our partner the Chamber of Commerce, we cannot see why this process should not continue and we will continue to be involved and stay informed so that we can better serve our customers, our guest and our community.
Ken Robertson asked how Miller would feel if two DGRs were involved.
"I'm sure there will be more coming up outside of this scope," replied Miller, "and there will be lots more discussion about that but a lot of the confusion that has evolved over this issue has created a lot more problems for this group than they originally had or deserve on this issue. I think that is hurting us more than before."
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Tuesday, October 08, 2013