Thursday, August 21

We Are Many Festival

This just in from Regina EcoLiving

"Saskatoon will be the site of the transformative project, We Are Many: A Festival, which presents a model of sustainability for mid-sized cities throughout North America. We Are Many (WAM) will use the energy and community spirit of the arts — music, theatre, dance, literature, and visual art — in taking a dramatic step toward a more environmentally friendly community. The festival will feature arts exhibits and performances as well as hands-on workshops and symposia on the whats, hows, and whys of sustainability.

For more information, visit or call 306.343.1757"

Sunday, August 17

Earls keeps on serving honest value: Review

This is the latest review that I wrote about about Earls restaurant which just got published on Tripadvisor. I don't know why there such a vacuum when in comes to encouraging citizens and visitors to blog and write about the tourism establishments they frequent in Regina, when most marketers would agree that this is the single most effective way to raise awareness about destinations and what they have to offer. Nothing short of total transparence and honesty will do, if we want to raise awareness about the city and the authentic experiences it offers.

The fact that the last review prior to this one dated back to January is of real concern!!!

Saturday, August 16

Mortlach's tourism efforts are starting to pay off

I don't know if any of you have had a chance to stop in Mortlach, located on Trans-Canada Highway west of Moose Jaw, but it seems their tourism efforts are paying off. Mortlach Mayor Ron Locke just shared the following with me.
"We are still working to make Mortlach a tourist destination. Our Mortlach Saskatoon Berry Festival on 5 Jul 08 was a huge success with over 2500 people in attendance. Check out our website to see how things are progressing."

I wrote an article abou their efforts that was published in this publication a few years back.

And I went back to the area to lead an archaeological survey with the Regina Archaeological Society later on.

Kudos to the community!

Saskatoon leader has huge impact on river stewardship

I was happy to see that Meewasin Valley Authority' Susan Lamb is profiled in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix this morning. Susan's good work over the years has certainly helped guide resource stewardship in the South Saskatchewan River Valley.

Until I read Ned Powers' article, there is a lot about her background I didn't know:

"Lamb attended the University of Saskatchewan, where she earned a bachelor of science in 1974 and an education degree in 1978.
She joined The StarPhoenix as a writer in 1977 and became the Newspaper-In-Education co-ordinator. As a founding member, she coined the title, READ Saskatoon, an organization which has become a powerhouse in literacy activities.
After her first turn with the MVA, she joined Tourism Saskatoon in 1991, and admits to facing a real challenge.
"We were near bankruptcy. We developed some marketing ideas, formed some partnerships and it became a time of significant growth within the industry. In 1997, we were named the fastest-growing tourism destination in Canada."
She was a founding director of the Saskatoon Airport Authority and founder of the Women's CEO Group. She's been a director with Tourism Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Foundation, Persephone Theatre, Winterfest and Big Sisters, among others.
She won the YWCA's Women of Distinction award in 1995 for leadership in business and community work.
She and Ron have been married for 39 years and her husband was a longtime educator in the Moose Jaw and Saskatoon public schools systems."

Friday, August 15

Whale watch operators set the record straight

I came across this story by the Canadian Press today... Dan Kukat is a first rate operator that we work with. It is good to see him and his group step forward to provide a bit of context and to educate consumers about how the industry operates:

B.C. man who barreled through pod of killer whales fined $3,500

VANCOUVER — A British Columbia man who mowed over a pod of killer whales at full speed in his boat, either hitting or just missing one of the endangered animals, has been fined $3,500.

Xi Change Gao, of Sidney, B.C., was convicted in April after video showed the man's eight-metre crab-fishing vessel, the Vien Duong, tearing through the pod near South Pender Island.

"The video indicated that the Vien Duong appeared to collide, or very nearly collide, with a killer whale while continuing to manoeuvre around other members of the pod at full speed and in close proximity," said a Department of Fisheries news release.

The video was captured in an area where the southern resident killer whales are often spotted. There are only 87 animals left in that whale population, and they are listed as an endangered species by the federal government.

Xi was fined $3,000 in a provincial court for disturbing marine mammals and another $500 for a crab-fishing licence violation.

When fisheries officers looked through his logbook shortly after the August 2007 incident, they found he failed to keep it up to date.

Xi's actions are completely contrary to whale protection laws and whale-watching etiquette.

Dan Kukat, president of Whale Watch Operators Association Northwest, said that type of incident is unusual.

"I'm sure it was unintentional," he said of Xi's actions.

"I don't want to sound apologetic, but you know it could happen to anybody. However, once you find yourself amongst killer whales, the law clearly requires us to take evasive action where possible."

Most whale-watching groups in B.C. and Washington State have signed an agreement that limits boats from getting closer than about 400 metres to whales.

If boat operators finds themselves close to whales, they must immediately slow down to seven knots and turn off their engines if the whales get closer.

Kukat, who runs Springtide Victoria Whale Tours, said whales are extremely adept at getting out of the way of boats and are a lot smarter than many people believe.

"They spend as much time watching the whale watchers as whale watchers are watching whales," he said with a chuckle. "They are highly intelligent creatures. Some people think maybe even more intelligent than human beings."

David Roberts, sales and operations manager at the Victoria-based Prince of Whales whale-watching company, said most people are respectful of wildlife, but the few who aren't seem to stand out.

"You have people who do all sorts of strange things around, not just whales, but all wildlife," said Roberts.

"I've seen people try to get their kids up close to a rutting elk to get a nice picture. People who will feed wildlife on the corner of a road, people who drive through a pod of killer whales. Some people just don't have the understanding."

Lisa Spaven, marine mammal incident co-ordinator with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said the recovery strategy for southern resident killers whales identifies boating activity as an issue.

"It's an issue in that these animals rely on their aquatic environment to perform their normal life process."

Spaven said the southern resident population has lost a few whales this year, but has also gained a few, including a new calf just spotted a two days ago.

Kukat said the protection of killer whales along the coasts of B.C. and Washington State has come a long way.

Decades ago, people would shoot at them to keep them away from fish nets and fishing lines - or worse.

"Go back to the war: they were used for bombing practice, as stories have it," said Kukat.

Thursday, August 14

How safe do you feel in Victoria Park?

The Regina Downtown BID is circulating a City Police questionnaire about your use of Victoria Park:

"Regina Police Service in partnership with the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District is currently examining Victoria Park and is interested in receiving your feedback. We appreciate you taking the time to fill out this questionnaire which can be faxed to Regina Downtown at 359-9060, or emailed to"

Here is your chance to help guide the folks tasked with making Regina a better place.

Tuesday, August 12

Drop in US travellers coming through Saskatchewan comes as no surprise

Earlier this month, Memory McLeod reported in the Leader-Post that there are fewer American travellers coming through the province:

""We are about to see an influx of American travellers who come through this time every year on their way back from Alaska. Other than those, no we have not seen a lot," said Peggy Henderson, visitor services manager at Tourism Regina.

The amount of American travellers to the province was down in July by 30 per cent compared to last year. June saw a 26 per cent decrease and a 4 per cent decrease in May."

That was really to be expected given the fuel prices, the current challenges in getting tourism stakeholders working together to harmonize our tourism offering around Saskatchewan's distinctive character in a way that makes our products attractive to international markets, and given current uncertainties around passports requirements.

I received phone calls from clients in the US requesting clarifications. One would be traveller from Michigan called us after visiting websites both in Canada and the US, and being left confused.

There is no doubt that Saskatchewan, its cities and rural communities have the potential to grow tourism revenues from sources other than the domestic market... but the entire Canadian tourism industry is struggling with the US market at the moment. It is indeed a time for innovation an renewed emphasis on collaborative strategies and tourism partnerships.

Friday, August 1

Britain's first new steam engine for 50 years puffs out of locomotive works

This is a great little story from The Times of London

"The first new steam engine built in Britain for almost 50 years steamed slowly out of Darlington Locomotive Works today to loud applause, a blizzard of camera flashes and a guaranteed future of full-speed mainline running, the length of Britain's rail network. Tornado, a replica of the A1 Peppercorn Pacific class, has taken 18 years to build and cost almost £3 million. With sponsorship from some of Britain's leading engineering companies, funds have come from steam enthusiasts across the country through deeds of covenant and a bonds issue.

About 250 people, including four BBC camera crews, made the journey to the shed where it was built to see the engine, belching thick smoke and blowing its whistle, move for the first time under its own steam."