Zachary Strom

Businesses have a good summer

Some Central Alberta tourist-related businesses will see increased revenues following this summer’s bounty of sunny, warm weather.

Some Central Alberta tourist-related businesses will see increased revenues following this summer’s bounty of sunny, warm weather.

Tourism Red Deer executive director Liz Taylor said that final numbers won’t be tallied up until the end of September, but early indications are this was a good year for events and attractions.

“The fairs and the festivals were happy,” Taylor said. “And I think the hotels are doing well.”

Tourism Red Deer’s new website was also picking up a lot of “hits” from viewers, she added.

The factor that seemed to make for a profitable summer across Alberta was all that nice sunshine.

“I think it’s going to end up being a good summer across the board,” Taylor said. “The weather started out a little bit scary.”

Ellis Bird Farm closed for the season on Labour Day Monday.

Myrna Pearman, site services manager and biologist at the tourist attraction 15 km southeast of Lacombe, estimated that more than 10,000 people visited.

About 8,500 people attended in 2011, she said.

The weather was a huge factor, but so was increased publicity, she said.

The farm received some increased attention south of the Canadian border when PBS Television profiled Ellis Bird Farm on a Northwest Profiles segment.

“Word is getting out,” said Pearman.

It also appears golfers were smiling on the fairways, too.

Rob MacPherson, general manager of the Ponoka Golf Club, said this season was much more favourable than last year.

“The only drawback was that some days were too hot,” MacPherson said.

“Otherwise it’s been great.”

This season was probably the best in four years, he added.

Melody Ellerby and her husband Tim have owned Lakeside Go-Karts and Mini-Golf in Sylvan Lake for 11 years. This summer was “a little bit busier” than last summer, she said.

“We had tourists from a number of countries and all over Alberta,” said Ellerby.

Out in the West Country near Nordegg, David Thompson Resort was experiencing good business as well. It includes a 130-site campground, plus three group sites, cabins and a 46-unit motel.

Ron Killick, who has owned the resort for 18 years with his wife Wendy, said it was very wet in May and June.

But once the warm temperatures hit in mid-July, the resort has been very busy until now.

“We’re going to be about the same as last year for business,” Killick said.

He attributes depleted provincial staffing, such as fish and wildlife officers, for not keeping random camping at bay.

This practice of people camping for free is costing his business.

He’s frustrated that people can camp anywhere, throwing their garbage and sewage wherever.

“The provincial government has to do something about all this random camping,” said Killick.

“It doesn’t make sense that we’re paying upwards of $40,000 a year in property taxes when people can go camping in the ditch across the road.”

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