Driving around the area recently makes me both proud and a bit sad.
I often tell people of, and exhort local promoters of the area to extoll, the myriad of quite wonderful recreation facilities in this region. It should be a major selling point for the area that there are ample and excellent venues for virtually every kind of recreation close at hand.
Within an hour’s reasonable driving from anywhere in the Trail-Castlegar-Nelson-Salmo-Fruitvale-Rossland loop there are: two world class ski hills, that are generally not overcrowded; three very nice aquatic centers that most, especially large urban areas, would consider affordable, and some outside pools as well; many fairly or truly pristine lakes and many small and one giant rivers; at least eight, again fairly affordable, hockey/skating rinks and almost as many curling rinks.
Basketball courts, squash, racquetball, tennis and pickleball courts; ball, soccer, rugby (and cricket), track and field facilities and skate parks with more of those, apparently, to come.
Several very nice full size and some smaller golf courses – for which tee times are almost always available and relatively affordable.
Unmatchable opportunities for outdoor activities from walking to cycling and motorized touring; along with easy small urban access to parks and beaches and waterways right within the communities involved; a dedicated and well run bocce facility and many less formal ones.
Archery and shooting venues; etc., and, ample local access to friendly experts about accessing and using all these venues in informal or competitive ways.
We have a recreation paradise here.
And yet, in my travels around the region, I see that most of these facilities are empty most of the time in late summer and early fall – even the golf courses seem deserted by early afternoon.
Locals are a bit spoiled by the abundance of opportunity and yet local governments and private/club/ volunteer operators make a strong effort to maintain this abundance, in season, year round.
There has to be a way to, “sell,” this abundance to the wider world of recreators, many of whom struggle with limited access in larger centers.
Given that low usage is a problem, cost-wise, for almost all the organizations that maintain and operate the varied resources available, it seems almost imperative that someone comes up with an idea to increase usage, or that operators consider partially or totally shuttering some of these facilities as being too expensive to maintain at their current level.
I do not know the best marketing strategy out there, but there has to be something better than we are now doing. It seems at least worth considering by a locally partisan (collaborative rather than combative group from all communities) collective.
Sidetracking some of the funding slated for seemingly ineffectual (at revitalizing the economy) downtown renovation projects into a big promotional push about what makes this area a special place to live and visit might be a start.
Doing nothing better than what we are doing now does not seem a sustainable vision.