Gull Lake to focus on creating new tourism and business opportunities in its downtown core
By Tim Kalinowski
Town Council’s priorities over the next few months will be tourism and the downtown business core, says Gull Lake mayor Blake Campbell.
“The tourism committee has been working on a downtown heritage tour. We’re hoping to have that running and in place by July. We also want to get a feel for where the downtown businesses are at. Where could we help them. The plan is on July 23 we will be having a downtown business forum at the Elk’s Hall and we’ll be inviting our businesses to share in what we learned from our questionnaire we sent out last year.”
Campbell says Gull Lake has been making strides to get more tourist dollars flowing into the community by focusing on how the community can best maximize what it already has, and by adding a few new attractions. Gull Lake’s campground is already one of the most utilized local campgrounds in southwest Saskatchewan due to its close proximity to the TransCanada Highway. Campbell feels if there is more for those staying at the campground to do by way of tourist attractions like a downtown heritage walking tour or touring the recently acquired heritage Wong Guy Shoe Shop, which will be open later this summer, there will be even more incentive to bring those guests downtown and spend money at local businesses.
“I don’t think we can underestimate the value tourism plays in any community. Yes, we wouldn’t be Maple Creek,” explains Campbell. “But we do have people traveling through on their way to the Cypress Hills and they are stopping at the campground. So it is a market I think we have to go after.”
As for the downtown business forum on July 23, Campbell is hoping it will lead to something more. But, in the end, it’s up to the business owners to decide.
“Some have expressed an interest in having an association similar to a Chamber of Commerce. But not exactly a Chamber, more like an association. So maybe if other ones feel that way this will provide an avenue for them to get together and talk about it. Each business is closely tied to every other business in the downtown area, and working together they can accomplish more than what they could working on their own.”
At the very least Campbell is hoping by sharing the information collected from the business surveys and creating a forum for business owners to talk amongst themselves it will shake some ideas loose on how to enhance Gull Lake’s downtown business community.
“That’s the hope,” confirms Campbell. “When you get people together ideas come together. And is there something they want from us as local government? Is there something we can do to help them?”
Campbell says while he would like to see more businesses opening in the community, and more and quicker movement on the question of unused buildings and absentee landlords in the downtown core, he is satisfied the community, economy-wise, is moving in the right direction.
“In the long-run we are on the right track with what we’re doing. We have made some progress. I would like to see faster progress on some of these things of course, but this is certainly on the right track. If you look at Gull Lake, for instance, there are not enough houses up for sale and rental places are few and far between. So we have had a lot of people moving into the community in recent years. And if you look at SaskJobs, quite a few jobs in the last few weeks have been advertised in the Gull Lake area. I think, overall, we are on the best path we could possibly be on.”
Another point of interest coming out of the most recent Town Council meeting is the Town has agreed to give several lots in the old football field across from the Special Care Home over to the Kreative Kidz Early Learning Centre when it moves its building in later this year. The Early Learning Centre had originally been slated to move in behind the tennis courts at Gull Lake School.
Via: The Advance