It’s time for a new Visitor’s Centre

By David F. Rooney

City Council’s decision to approve, in principle, the allocation of $300,000 for the creation of a permanent new home for the Visitor Information Centre is a welcome step forward in the marketing of Revelstoke — the only question now is, “Where should it go?”

Council suggested it could be built in the parking lot at the southwest corner of Mackenzie Avenue and Victoria Road. That may be the right location. And maybe not. Wherever it goes, the Chamber wants it downtown — not on the Trans-Canada Highway as has been suggested in the past.

“There’s a reason supermarkets put eggs, cheese and milk at the back of their stores,” says John Devitt, the Chamber’s executive director. “You end up buying other things as you head that way. We have a beautiful downtown and it makes sense to build it there so visitors can appreciate it and all the amenities we have.”

Visitors’ Centres located on highways easily become little more than stopping points for travellers who need a bathroom break or information about highway conditions ahead — not information about their communities.

“We don’t want a Visitors’ Centre that does little more than tell people how far it is to Salmon Arm,” Devitt said. “If we get people off the highway then we’ll draw them to our downtown which is one of our best assets.”

So far, the Chamber has managed to get by offering a summer Visitors’ Centre on the ground floor of the Avalanche Centre and winter services through its office on Campbell Avenue. Finding the right location for the centre will offer stability but is not the only key question.

“$300,000 is a lot of money, but it’s not enough to build a Visitors’ Centre,” noted Councillor Peter Frew.

Obviously, the money, which is coming from the Tourism Infrastructure Fund, will need to be augmented by funding from other sources. And, when that money is found, the City will have start thinking of ways to better address signage. There are more signs on Victoria and at Campbell and Third pointing the way to various venues in town, but there may not be enough. For instance the sign at Wright and Victoria says there is a Public Art Gallery and points down Wilson but that’s as far as it goes. Unless you know where you’re going after that you won’t find it.