We would be smart to diversify our economy

To the Editor:

It is nice to see a response to the issue of a wildlife reserve for caribou and other creatures. Brian Pitcairn is right when he points out that the jobs created by tourism are not as well paying as the jobs created by resource extraction.

At the risk of being called ‘eco-radical,’ I don’t think calling caribou ‘dog food,’ is very nice. The oil and the timber industries are not in direct danger of being shut down by a caribou reserve. But, in June 2017, nuclear, solar and wind generated more UK power than gas and coal together for the first time. (Wikipedia) Other countries are working at increasing their solar, wind and thermal power and these changes are bound to have a dampening effect on the oil industry. While the pipeline situation keeps us all riveted we would be smart to try to diversify our economy.

The charge that the ‘eco-radicals’’ are causing the ‘coming industry collapse’ is wrong. Resource-based industry is subject to a boom/bust cycle created by forces far removed from our community. The bottom fell out of the oil market before the Alberta NDP were elected and every government will be challenged to deal with the world market, OPEC, unexpected tariffs on softwood lumber and public perceptions.

Tourism is a growth industry and our area has much to offer. The mayor and the Tri-Council have decided to put some money into promotion and I am enthusiastic about this initiative. I think we need to have local attractions and events that draw people to the area. Tourists are people who have the time and money to ramble around exploring the planet and are often retired people. I wonder how we get the Slave Lake area on their bucket list? I think a unique and appealing local attraction could make us a destination. I have talked to people who traveled to our area in order to visit the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation and other developments like it can serve as attractions. For many people, wild animals are charismatic and Banff National Park, Jasper National Park and Waterton National Park attract crowds trying to see the wildlife. It is our challenge to compete with them!

I recognize that the wildlife reserve idea is a big challenge. I think it is an idea worth looking at and ideas are hard to come by. Criticism, objections and name calling are easy to come by so I would urge Brian and other interested readers to come up with some other ideas.

Linda Munroe
Slave Lake, AB

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  1. Being involved in a tourism project, I agree with Linda, and others who feel that tourism is positive step. It will never pay the way like the oil industry did but there is economic viability that adds to the communities economy. The tourism industry brought $8.3 billion to Alberta’s economy in 2016. Multiple statistics can be found through Travel Alberta. The sad truth is, in a market that wants exploration, experiences and a connection with nature, northern Alberta attracts only 7% of that market. Each dollar spent by a traveller in a community cycles through 3 times before leaving. I think northern Albertans should be asking themselves, in a region that covers close to half the land base of the province why that 7% is not 25% or more. That’s over a billion dollars that could be heading our way.

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