“We recently completed the Strategic Tourism Expansion Program (STEP). It allowed us to look at what we already have in the area as well as things that we can work on and need,” said Sexton, the Borden-Carleton mayor.
STEP is an Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) program available to various communities that want to grow tourism.
Communities apply to participate in the program and receive funding.
The study conducted on Borden-Carleton was recently published on the town’s website. It drew on topics like branding, location, and identifying guiding principles that can achieve the town’s goal of “building and executing a successful sustainable tourism community plan.”
The plan touched on 12 essential details to help market and grow the image of the town including, a theme, essence of the destination, authenticity, accessibility, and sense of place.
The study also stated that “in order to compete, Borden-Carleton will need to fully capitalize on the product and experiential development ideas presented in this plan. Borden-Carleton needs to think about itself as a true tourism destination area.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing this town reach its full potential,” said Sexton.
“This isn’t something that will happen next week, but while we work on the master plan, we’re hoping to get some of the small projects we want completed around town in the near future.”
During the process, the town heard from residents of the area whose suggestions included creating a tour boat experience focusing on the bridge, establishing a community garden, cleaning up unsightly premises, establishing alternate energy sources like solar or wind, and including a new library.
“We’ve been working on this study for some time,” added Sexton. “We know this is going to be quite a task.”
Peggy Miles, the tourism development manager of the Central Coastal Development Partnership, brought the STEP program to Sexton’s attention last year.
The organization works with communities across the central and coastal region helping them grow tourism.
During the STEP study, Miles sat on the committee, which included other councillors, a representative from ACOA, residents and business owners.
“There was a lot of enthusiasm. Ideas were flowing. It takes time to come up with a plan, and this community really set the time aside and was committed to the process.”
What the community gains from the program is access to a consultant for about a year to help determine what their priorities for tourism are, as well as short, medium and long term goals, explained Miles.
Now that the initial study is complete and has been released, Sexton and the committee are starting work on the master plan, funded by the money the town was given by the McCain Foods fund handed out earlier this year.
“Now we’re putting out the request for proposals… We are also accepting resumes for a committee for the master plan and they will be selected in the next few weeks,” explained Sexton.
To view the full STEP study, go to http://www.borden-carleton.ca/files/step_2017.pdf.