Monday, October 23, 2006
A fresh face
on the capitalâ€™s waterfront
The future of our wharf is
as important to locals as to visitors it will welcome.
Islanders saw a flurry of spending last week when
federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Minister Peter
MacKay dropped by with some cheques, but one of the more
interesting projects announced was the creation of a
cruise ship welcome centre for the Charlottetown
If Charlottetown intends to grow its cruise ship
business, it needs a top-notch welcome centre that
visitors find appealing at first glance. After all,
this is their first view of the Island. The question
that needs to be asked is: what do we want them to
first set their sights on?
According to the announcement last week, ACOA will
contribute $500,000 to develop the potato wharf
warehouse as a first stop for marine passengers. The
Charlottetown Harbour Authority will chip in $200,000.
This is a worthwhile investment. The cruise ship
industry is a booming global business. Kim Green of
Tourism Charlottetown told a forum on the cruise
industry last summer that the industry worldwide has
grown 1,400 per cent in the last 10 years.
Charlottetown is already reaping some of the benefits of
that growth. Tourism Charlottetown has estimated that
the economic impact of the cruise ship in the capital
city should exceed $3 million this year, up from $2.1
million in 2005. Plans by the Charlottetown Harbour
Authority to expand and reconstruct the pier are
expected to allow for a 100 percent growth in cruise
passengers by 2010.
Achieving this wonâ€™t be easy or without controversy.
Critics of the cruise ship industry have cautioned the
province to move slowly, and to ensure that those who do
visit our port are held to regulations governing the
disposal of sewage and bilge water. Thatâ€™s simply
sensible. Who wins if we build an industry that is
allowed to compromise the health and quality of the
water surrounding the Island?
There are other challenges, too. One is working in
co-operation, not competition, with other Maritime
ports, something that was recommended by a speaker at
last summerâ€™s forum. As well, those interested in
promoting the cruise ship industry have to work with the
provinceâ€™s hospitality and service sectors to ensure the
province is able to respond to the needs of large
infusions of visitors.
A new cruise ship welcoming centre on the Charlottetown
waterfront is an important feature in this big picture.
But what kind of welcoming centre should be built? That
merits some extensive consultation. Those with the task
of developing PEIâ€™s welcome centre on the Charlottetown
waterfront should invite Islanders to give their ideas
on what should define their welcome centre.
3 Lower Malpeque Road