Three Yellowknife-based tourism projects will be getting an injection of around a quarter of a million dollars from the federal government.
NWT MP Michael McLeod announced the $248,600 in federal funding at the Yellowknife Visitors Centre. The money comes from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, it will be split between projects by Jackpine Paddle, Snowking’s Winter Festival and The City of Yellowknife.
“Tourism presents the Northwest Territories with an exciting opportunity to diversify and grow the economy, creating new opportunities and jobs,” McLeod says.
Owner of Jackpine Paddle Dan Wong says the $39,000 investment from CanNor, plus $29,997 from the GWNT and $25,011 from the company itself, will go to a new ‘cooperative model’ of paddle tours.
“We’re really excited about our trips up in the Sahtu region. We’re starting a cooperative model where the clients have to make their own food,” he says. He estimates tours can be about $1,000 cheaper with this new model. This could draw a younger demographic, which usually draw a 60-or-over crowd.
“Not only is it just a different business model but it’s a different type of trip. You’re still there with guides who are experienced and you still have the high-quality gear up there and all the arrangements made, but everyone is cooking, cleaning, doing the camp work together.”
Coming up on their fifth summer in operation, Jackpine Paddle is the only 100 per cent locally owned paddle adventure company Wong says. In an industry where most operators are from southern Canada and fly guides in, Wong says Jackpine hires locals and stops in communities along the paddle routes, sharing economic benefits with them.
The 24th annual Snowking’s Winter Festival gets a $56,600 investment from CanNor, together with $14,200 from the festival itself. The money is already in operation, with a heated visitors centre at the snow castle at Yellowknife Bay, as well as plans to invest in new ice cutting equipment.
“For the last number of years we’ve had a giant snow saw…and that cuts good ice. But we’re going to be investing in a band saw and circular saw so we can cut bevels like right away, while the ice is still green, store it like that and then we’ll be able to do way more things with the ice,” says the Snowking himself.
The City of Yellowknife project including installation of multilingual, interactive wayfinding signs. CanNor put $153,000 into the project and the city is also investing $51,000. The first step is finding out where signs are needed, Mayor Rebecca Alty says, then comes the installation.
“By providing wayfinding information in multiple languages and integrating digital components such as Pingstreet and a web-based itinerary builder, visitor experiences will be enhanced and local businesses will benefit.”