Editorial – We’re all too rich

Jeff Burgar

In early spring last year, a group of about a dozen snowmobilers had paused for a break. It was on the south shore of Lesser Slave Lake. They were stopped, deciding if they should take a run out to the 100 or so ice huts about 3 km out on the lake, or carry on down the road ditches to where ever it was they were going.

This is, of course, another opportunity for tourism. We could have snowmobile trails in so-called ‘circle routes’ ranging from Barrhead and Westlock, up through Swan Hills or Slave Lake, by High Prairie, into honeybee country around Falher and McLennan, then off to 12-Foot Davis Land.

Hotels, restaurants and watering holes along the way would benefit. Trail groomers responsible for clearing the way of deep snow would be kept busy. Recreation outfits would benefit from fixing up broke-down equipment.

Heck, there might even be a business hauling gear and people home. As in a three-day excursion to the north country ends with a bus ride home. Or maybe friends picking you and the sleds up at the end of the trip.

That’s not really a ‘circle tour’ but point-to-point with a nice ending.

Reality of course, is a slap in the face to such ideas. As in, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?”

So, if this is such a good idea, why aren’t people doing it already?”

Summer circle tours around the Peace country are a great idea. There are enough roads through Grande Prairie, Fairview, Peace River, Smoky River, down to Whitecourt and Edmonton, around to Westlock and up to Slave Lake. Up 88 and back down to High Prairie. Through Swan Hills and Kinuso. Great RV and motorcycle routes.

So are hotels, restaurants, campgrounds and even gas stations and grocery stores promoting these? Because really, why should anybody else, like a tourist board or chamber of commerce, usually all volunteers, if the businesses that will benefit the most can’t or won’t pitch in?

Worse, it doesn’t help the situation when our Alberta government, through Travel Alberta, seems more interested in promoting mountains, not the entire northern half of the province.

We do hear about Cold Lake and Devonshire Beach at Slave Lake. Maybe we just aren’t paying enough attention. Why does one have to go looking? People like being hit over the head with advertising that informs. Why isn’t there more about Lesser Slave Lake, the Peace, Athabasca and Smoky rivers, the Swan Hills and so much more?

Most people don’t buy a new truck until they see advertising. We rarely think about using a different pizza place until they promote a special. There are many YouTube clips of busy American lakes and trails where snowmobiling is super-popular. Lots of groomed trails, warm up huts, very well-used ditches, law enforcement patrols, and wide-open spaces on frozen lakes in northern states. None of it fell from the sky like snow does.

At the end of the day, it sort of makes a person want to go there, even when there is so much to enjoy right here. The welcome signs just aren’t out.

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