Council wants young and old operating Visitor Info Centre

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo Town council is looking at a different way of operating the Visitor Information Centre this summer.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Town council is looking at a different way of operating the Visitor Information Centre this summer.

Town council has opted to try for a mixture of young and old to operate the Hay River Visitor Information Centre this summer.

Council voted on April 11 to direct administration to continue hiring summer students to operate the centre and to explore the possibility of using Hay River Seniors’ Society volunteers on an honorarium basis in an amount up to $5,000 overall for the tourism season.

That recommendation, which council approved by a five to two vote, came from the town’s tourism committee.

It was presented to council in a somewhat unusual manner.

A different motion was initially presented to council to award the 2016 operation of the Visitor Information Centre to the Hay River Seniors’ Society in an amount not to exceed $25,000.

That motion didn’t pass. The town will continue to run the Visitor Information Centre itself.

The seniors’ society had earlier written town council with that idea.

“The Hay River Seniors’ Society managing the tourist booth will not only help the town with consistent knowledgeable community-interested residents greeting our tourists, it will also assist the seniors with much needed funding,” stated society president John Brockway in the letter to council.

Coun. Keith Dohey told council the tourism committee had different thoughts on how to operate the centre by collectively giving seniors’ society volunteers a $5,000 honourarium.

Dohey said he would have that separate recommendation if the original motion to award the operation to Hay River Seniors’ Society didn’t pass. He was invited by council to read that separate recommendation while the first one was being discussed.

The tourism committee’s recommendation – the one that was approved – involves hiring summer students and then working with the seniors to see if there is a way to get them involved, as well.

“And getting some money out of it for their society,” said Dohey.

The councillor said having one or two seniors at the centre would allow visitors to chat with them about the town’s history.

Dohey said the summer students would still do the bulk of the work.

Coun. Vince McKay said he would like seniors and summer students working together at the centre.

“I like the idea of a senior being there so that we have the history for visitors,” said McKay.

The Hay River Seniors’ Society ran the Visitor Information Centre in 2011 and 2012.

The motion passed by a vote of five to two.

Also at the April 11 meeting, council unanimously passed a motion to auction off all used and spare items that are surplus to all departments.

“One of the things that the town has done in the past is bought something new and then kept something old,” Mapes said late last week. “We just got to get away from the clutter stuff.”

–Paul Bickford