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New pitch for local tourist centre

PICTOU – The doors of the local visitor information centre might open up again, but it won’t be under the provincial government.

Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency, met with municipal and provincial leaders this week as well as tourism stakeholders to reiterate that the provincial VIC at the Pictou rotary will not be opening as it has in the past.

However, Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane said he did tell the group there is funding available if the community wants to reopen it.

“He made it very clear that they would not be reversing their decision,” she said. “He would take our presentation back to the NSTA to review and he also indicated that there is absolutely financial assistance if it’s collectively decided as a community to take over the building and house it with staff.”

The provincial government announced earlier this year that the VIC at the Pictou rotary would not be opening this year, a cost-cutting measure. 

MacFarlane said Sullivan mentioned to the group that in less than 10 years there probably won’t be any provincial VICs open in the province because of the change in the way that people receive their information through technology. She said the province is taking the money it would put in the VICs and transferring that to marketing, especially in the New England states.

Cindy MacKinnon, manager of Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores, said DEANS and all the municipalities are concerned about the closure and would be interested in seeing a local plan, but as of now, things are very much in the early stages.

“DEANS is working with the six municipal units to keep services at the entry point in Caribou because everyone along the Northumberland Shore and to Antigonish will be affected,” she said. “Without anything at the entry point, visitors could go around the rotary and head straight to Halifax or Cape Breton.”

Lisa MacDonald, CAO for New Glasgow, who was also present at the meeting with Sullivan, said all six municipalities and DEANS will be looking at what is “feasible for us to pursue,” but the ideal solution would be for the province to look at how it could cut down on its own costs and reopen the centre itself.

“We haven’t had the opportunity to discuss it yet, but clearly it is a service that has been provided at the provincial level,” she said.

She said it is evident that government departments aren’t communicating well with each other because the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, which maintains the building and will continue to do so even if it is closed, recently attended a meeting in regard to the revamping of the Pictou rotary and was eager to be part of ongoing discussions.

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