BY DOUG REYNOLDS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NOTO
overnment relations activities are an important part of what NOTO does on behalf of the industry. Given the number of government departments and ministries that have an impact on your businesses, it is fair to say that we deal with a lot of different folks at several levels of government.
“The provincial government through several specific ministries is generally seen as having the greatest impact on our industry. The ministries of natural resources, tourism and northern development are generally the major ones, with issues in environment, finance, transportation and others occasionally emerging.”
The federal government also impacts the nature and outdoor tourism industry in a few key areas, notably through Ministry of Transport regulation of aviation and boating, and the impact of border issues through Immigration and the Canadian Border Services Agency. The Finance Ministry has a major impact through tax policy, as well.
There are many other impacts on the industry from both levels of government, of course, but have you noticed yet what is missing from this picture? There is an old adage that says that all politics is local politics, yet municipal government is rarely on our industry’s priority list.
There are lots of good reasons for this, of course, including the fact that many tourism operations are located in unorganized territories where there is no local government. However, local government is important to our industry in a variety of ways, and the NOTO board has identified working with local government as a priority for the coming year.
Although we tend to associate local government with infrastructure concerns like roads and sewers, their influence goes way beyond that. Many municipal governments have economic development or even tourism departments that undertake a variety of local initiatives. Local governments also have a great deal of influence with the other levels of government, whether its through a call from the mayor to an MNR district manager or active lobbying of provincial or federal politicians.
With the challenges facing many northern communities, our local governments are looking for new opportunities for economic growth. In many cases, they seem to barely realize that our industry exists, much less the significant impact it has on the economy of their town. We need to educate our local leaders on the value of our industry, the challenges we face, and the opportunities we have to work together for the good of our communities.
The timing could not be better. Our local governments have just been elected with a new four year mandate. Some local councils will have many newcomers while others have seen familiar faces retuned. In any case, they have fours years to prove themselves to voters, and politicians are generally most eager and creative at the beginning of a new mandate.
The NOTO board will be working to develop some clear messages to send to our local governments. That’s where you come in. We need folks in our communities to go out and talk with their local leaders. We want to work with you to help make sure our message is clear and consistent, and we need your help getting the message out everywhere.
If you have additional ideas on what we need to say, and how to make this initiative work, or if you are interested in volunteering to meet with your local council member, please let us know. You can contact the NOTO office or call a NOTO board member. As business people and as members of communities, we have a lot to gain by working more effectively together.
This article was taken from page 12 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, Winter 2006 Issue