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Ladner tourism efforts must be linked to sister port in Steveston

Editor: Re: Tourism in need of champion, July 13 The article has prompted me to take a few minutes to offer my perspective as a former tourism operator in Delta.


Re: Tourism in need of champion, July 13

The article has prompted me to take a few minutes to offer my perspective as a former tourism operator in Delta.

Without a doubt, all of the comments in this article could have been made (and almost certainly were made) by all of the "commentees" from both sides of the public/private sector fence anytime over the past 20-odd years.

I was left with very mixed emotions. On the one hand, it reinforced my conviction that closing down our tourism business in Ladner Harbour this past spring was a good decision. On the other hand, after investing heavily in the promise and potential of our village and my home over the past decade, I am left with profound feelings that can only be described as bittersweet angst.

In years past I worked with Tourism Delta, the Delta Chamber of Commerce and the LBA. Countless, mostly interminable, meetings never accomplished much of anything.

The only initiative in my memory that at least seemed to offer hope was the Downtown Ladner Waterfront Revitalization Project, but now even that flash in the pan has faded away. (We did indeed have champions; their names were George and Heather.)

In my experience the only tourism strategy that makes any sense to me at all is to pick up on Peter Roaf's suggestion that Delta redouble all efforts to network and work (yeah, somebody has to get their hands dirty) with Tourism Richmond in the hope that we can finally accomplish some sort of meaningful linkages between our two sister ports, Ladner and Steveston, and our common history and heritage alongside the Fraser River.

That's all we really have to work with. That's all we've ever had. The beach, the bog and the bird sanctuary are secondary elements that could be brought to the table but that is all they are.

How to proceed? We have to accept the fact Ladner needs this connection more with Steveston than Steveston will ever need the same from us. My company has now been operating a retail store in Steveston for five years and most recently reopened our waterfront paddle sports facility in Steveston Harbour.

This place is amazing! There's no looking back and no apologies being made. City staff and elected officials seem to have some gumption and vision. What's the buy-in for Richmond and Steveston to work together with Delta? I'm still scratching my head on that one but it's an answer worth pursuing.

Where is Delta's champion to come from? Several months back I submitted a conceptual proposal to the planning department regarding the Seven Seas holdings in Ladner Harbour. The idea centered around the idea that a Ladner Community Harbour Society could be an entity to drive our waterfront development forward while embracing the good work done by the waterfront committee.

Notwithstanding the progress that is reportedly being made regarding the successful proponent's efforts to date, I am still convinced that a community approach is preferable. (Make no mistake, I'm not suggesting anything like Britannia Heritage Shipyard in Steveston Harbour; there are much better models out there.)

Is my perspective skewed, overly narrow and biased as a result of a decade of enterprise in Ladner Harbour, which included retail operations on Chisholm Street? Yes, absolutely!

Tony Dales

Kaymaran Adventure Tours Inc.