• John Jantak

Ste. Anne hires consulting firm in effort to bring in more tourism visits

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK Ste. A majority of Ste. Anne council members voted in favour of hiring a consulting group that will prepare a report and make recommendations on how the city can attract more tourists. District 1 Councillor Dana Chevalier and District 6 Councillor Michel Boudreault voted against the resolution.

Ste. Anne de Bellevue council adopted a resolution at the monthly Monday evening session August 10 to hire a consulting firm that will study the city’s tourism aspect in order to prepare a report providing recommendations on how it can boost the number of visitors.

Four of the six municipal councillors voted for the resolution in which a contract valued at just under $21,000 was awarded LJM Conseil. District 1 Councillor Dana Chevalier and District 6 Councillor Michel Boudreault voted against it because they felt other issues should take precedence such as developing the city’s northern industrial areas first.

“I think the priority should be on the industrial side,” Chevalier told Your Local Journal after the meeting. “I feel it’s not time right now to focus on the tourist aspect. There are a lot of great events happening in Ste. Anne like the Farmer’s Market. They’re doing an excellent job and the tourism industry seems to be doing really well right now.”

Boudreault shared Chevalier’s sentiments that the town should focus its efforts primarily on building up its industrial area. “I’m not totally against the proposal; it’s just that right now we have other priorities. I’m not personally ready to spend $20,000 on the report,” said Boudreault.

For Mayor Paola Hawa, the issue isn’t so much about how Ste. Anne can attract more tourists, but what the city can do to bring more commerce into the village to help revive its flagging southern downtown core. She would also like to somehow unite the city’s very distinctive northern, central and southern areas, into one complete tourism package.

“This is an area where we need specific help,” Hawa told Your Local Journal. “With our partnership with Tourisme Montréal, in order for them to be able to help us, we need to present to them a marketing strategy. We need someone to be able to focus on this exclusively and take care of it.”

Due to the unique geographic layout of the city that is divided by two major highways, the 20 and 40, visitors are mostly unaware that the northern area features nature parks and the Ecomuseum Zoo, the MacDonald Campus Farm and aviation museum in the central district, and the downtown village in the south.

Hawa said part of the goal of the tourism study is to bring all three of the city’s unique aspects into one complete package so that when people visit the Ecomuseum Zoo or Morgan Arboretum, they can later visit the other attractions in the centre of the city or in the village, and vice-versa.

As part of its strategy, the city will hold its first Naturellement Ste. Anne event on September 12 that will showcase the city’s geographic diversity. “What we’re trying to do is to show people that there is more to Ste. Anne than just the boardwalk,” said Hawa. “What we’re trying to do is to show people that you can spend an entire day with the family in Ste. Anne visiting all the attractions.”

Hawa added that despite the two dissenting votes, council also adopted a resolution to hire the consulting firm Groupe CAI Global to provide a report on how the town should approach attracting new industrial companies to set up shop in the city’s northern district.

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