New county tourism website to debut later this month
By Chad Ingram
The following are brief reports of items discussed during county advisory committee meetings on Sept. 9.
Haliburton County’s new tourism website will go live later this month, likely the week of Sept. 21, tourism director Amanda Virtanen told councillors on the municipality’s tourism committee.
Back in May, Virtanen had told councillors she was unhappy with the low traffic to the county’s existing tourism site, as well as the staff headaches and cumbersome process with updating content, which required the assistance of the Vaughan company that built the site for the county in 2012 for $25,700.
Virtanen built the new site using a Wordpress template. With a black background, it incorporates the county’s #MyHaliburtonHighlands branding and has sections for adventure, arts and culture, etc., as well as a link to the chamber of commerce’s business directory and a restaurant listing.
“I think it’s fairly simple . . . it’s something we can add to over time,” Virtanen said.
Committee members seemed pleased with the result.
“It’s very mobile-friendly,” said Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin, reiterating this is something he’d asked for. “Thank you.”
Looking for a sign
Tourism director Amanda Virtanen told the tourism committee there was a holdup with approval of the municipality’s new gateway signage, which are black billboards bearing the #MyHaliburtonHighlands brand.
As Virtanen explained, there is some reluctance with the province’s tourism-oriented directional signs (TODS) program, where officials apparently don’t like the signs’ aesthetics, and would prefer images of rocks, trees, etc.
“Like everybody else,” quipped Highlands East Deputy-reeve Suzanne Partridge.
Committee members seemed to agree the appearance of the signs should really be none of the province’s business.
“The decision has been made and it is our brand,” said Algonquin Highlands Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen.
“Our goal is to have these installed this fall and we will work towards that,” said chief administrative officer Mike Rutter, adding that a meeting was to be set up with the TODS people and county staff.
Danielsen said there should be some political representation at that meeting as well.
Virtanen said it is likely the province will not permit the hash tag, part of the #MyHaliburtonHighlands logo, on the signage.
Closer to sale
Councillors on the county’s finance and correspondence committee reviewed a draft of the contract for the sale of a portion of the Highway 35 property where the EMS base is located to Minden Hills township.
In March county councillors voted to sell part of the five-acre property to Minden Hills, which intends to construct a new fire hall at the site.
The price is $362,000, representing half of the land purchase and servicing costs the county has incurred at the former Walkers’ Auto Repair property.
The contract deals with storm water management – the storm water pond for the property is located on the chunk that will be sold to Minden Hills – as well as the removal of excavated materials currently sitting on the Minden Hills portion.
The township wants that material removed.
“I’m not remotely convinced we’ll need it,” said Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin, indicating the township would create its own pile of excavated material when it digs for the construction of the new hall.
The contract also gives the county first right of refusal should Minden Hills decide to sell its piece of the property.