Published: August 24, 2016
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
Dear Red Lakers and Ear Fallisans,
You may have noticed that I have not been around recently. My smiling face and critical eyes has been missing from community events and municipal gatherings.
I am on vacation. Well, it’s a working vacation. The difference between the two I have come to learn this summer is that one requires me to sit in a lakeside lawn chair on a remote or relatively unknown lake while I keep up to date on comings and goings from friends, family and facebook.
A group of us are spending two weeks in Vermillion Bay at a summer training camp. The camp is often a jumpstart for local figure skaters to get their feet and muscles back in shape before returning to the Cochenour Arena in the fall.
This is my fourth summer here and I often get some very strange looks when I tell people where I am vacationing. I assure you packing up and heading south is no hardship. The lakes are just as pristine as ours and the campgrounds have full service, a treat after a camping season where the hum of the generator fills the night air.
Until about five years ago I had never been off the transcanada in this area. There was never a reason to. We stopped for gas and the occasional ice cream cone on the way to bigger and brighter destinations. A few summers ago we were invited to join the skating community in Machin for a summer session and it really changed everything.
This year, however, there has been a lot of discussion about whether or not the summer camp will continue in the future. Leaders are essentially asking if having their arena open in the summer, or really at all, is a benefit to their community. We have had no less than five conversations of this nature with community members and municipal leaders as they scout out who is from where and what they are doing in town. This is the first time that anyone has cared that we are here.
I’ve tried to stay neutral and positive because really, “I’m on vacation.” But it occurs to me that as someone who lives in a remote tourism destination that I have no concept of this type of assessment. Red Lakers have spent a lot of time and money promoting “the end of the road” as a worthy destination but how to do promote your community to those who are intent on “just passing through.” And really, do you want to?
This is something the Ear Falls council continues to struggle with, and by this I suggest they are continually trying to decide how best to spend their promotion budget and attract people to the community that may view them as just a quick gas/bathroom break before taking on the last 40 miles or so of their journey. This year they are considering new signage. I can imagine it is a never ending battle, one the community is intent to win and they should.
I leave you this week with this thought – how often have you passed through Vermillion Bay with little or no thought to what lays beyond what is visible from the highway. Next time take a few minutes, stop in and look around. Because us in the north have to stick together. You never know when you will find your next vacation spot.