By Barb McKay
Kincardine’s visitor information services are moving downtown.
Council agreed during last Wednesday’s council meeting to move tourism staff into vacant office space at 777B Queen Street, which it will share with the Kincardine BIA and Chamber of Commerce.
“The tourist information centre belongs downtown and it would be a good start to get it down there this summer,” said councillor Jacqueline Faubert.
The Chamber and BIA have each offered to contribute $3,000 annually to share the space downtown. PREDC, the third member of Team Kincardine, is also considering using the space and if the corporation did move downtown the cost sharing arrangement could change.
The long-term plan is to move tourism staff and visitor services into the Arts Centre once interior renovations are complete. Faubert said she expects the work could take three years to complete.
The visitor information centre is currently located in a rented office building on Highway 21. The building’s owners have agreed to extend the lease, which expires at the end of the month, until staff is able to move downtown, likely late March or early April.
Deputy mayor Anne Eadie said she and representatives from the accessibility committee took a tour of the Queen Street office building and said there is little difference, in terms of accessibility, between that space and the office on the highway. She said a little work needs to be done on the washroom for it to meet provincial accessibility standards.
Not everyone, however, agreed that tourism staff should co-locate with other groups. Councillor Randy Roppel recommended leaving the visitor information centre on the highway and move the BIA and Chamber in with PREDC, the third member of Team Kincardine, at the former Westario building on the south end of
Councillor Maureen Couture said she, also, did not agree with moving tourism staff into the temporary building, but stressed that if they were to move there air conditioning should be installed. She added that the municipality should consider putting a visitor information kiosk at the municipal airport.
Councillor Ken Craig said he supported moving staff downtown but noted that the municipality needs to consider contracts in place with tourism staff if it decides to extend hours at the visitor information centre during the summer. Team Kincardine has offered to help out with visitor services outside of regular business hours.
Mayor Larry Kraemer said he is confident that moving tourism staff in with other groups will be successful.
“I like the idea of co-locating the people involved with tourism and economic development in one building,” he said. “My feeling is that there will be some growing pains, but once it’s worked out we won’t want to undo it.”