Talking tourism in Twillingate

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Residents concerned about shrinking beachfront, recreational facilities

Boats reflected in the water in Twillingate.
— Photo by Jim Hildebrand/Special to TC Media

By Jim Hildebrand

Special to TC Media—Twillingate

The Pilot recently talked to people in Twillingate about their thoughts on local issues leading into the Sept. 24 municipal election and their expectations of a new town council.

Wilma Hartmann is a businesswoman and co-chair of the Twillingate-New World Island Strategic Tourism Expansion Program.

“We look forward to mixed-gender council with strong representation from our younger Twillingaters,” she said. “Tourism in Twillingate is worth more than $18 million a year to our economy and, as such, there are important issues to our industry.

“Protecting our cultural heritage and local environment are vital. Environmentally, our council has to take command of our shoreline. Beaches that are filled in not only restrict public access but also distort one of our greatest assets: a pristine coastline. Twillingate needs a vision and a plan for protecting our shores.

“Twillingate’s hiking trails draw thousands of visitors each year. Maintaining our trails as a world-class attraction has to on the agenda for a new council,” she continued. “Twillingate is a vibrant outport community — one that has great potential for growth. As such we need a town council that places emphasis on marketing Twillingate not only as a tourism destination, but also as a great place to live and to invest in.”

Patti Hicks-Brown, a teacher and member of the Twillingate Recreation Committee, not surprisingly would like to see a greater emphasis on recreational facilities.

“We have a growing community with younger families coming back. We need better accessibility for those who have disabilities, and certainly upgrades,” she said.

“It is important that councillors be familiar with our recreational infrastructure to have a better understanding of its state of repair and the needs of the community.

“If our councillors were proactive and stopped by the facilities and talked to the people who are using them, it would not come as a surprise that work is required.”

David Clarke, historian and author, said a new council will have to maintain Twillingate’s infrastructure.

“With government cutbacks there seems to be a tendency for municipalities to reduce their budgets by slashing upgrades from their budgets,” Clarke said.

“We are still seeing work being done on our roads, but there are some that are in deplorable repair. Council must keep up with maintenance. We need strong representation in the Federation of Municipalities, especially when there are so many competing interests to a finite pot of money.

“Heritage is important to our tourist economy,” he added. “Funding is required to initiate projects to help tell the story of our history to visitors. Council needs to take a stand on how heritage properties are being developed. An organized plan for development could help us preserve old properties instead of watching them being demolished to make way for new homes or businesses.

“Council must also stop turning a blind eye to beachfront development. If you cannot own beachfront then you should not be able to drop tons of fill in and restrict access to the rest of the community.

“Council must also be cognizant of how development will affect parking and the flow of traffic. Businesses that do not have adequate parking are creating congestion on the streets, which is becoming a hazard to pedestrians and other motorists.”

Roy Jenkins, a retired boating enthusiast, is in favour of measures to improve navigation.

“The tickle and the harbour need to be dredged and well marked so boats can be safely navigated,” he said.

“There is little room in the harbour for bigger boats. There is also a need to have more floating docks.

“Council should also address the amount of sludge that is in the harbour coming from the plant.”

Share your thoughts on municipal election issues with The Pilot by emailing editor@pilotnl.ca and we will share them with readers.

Organizations: Twillingate Recreation Committee, Federation of Municipalities

Geographic location: Twillingate

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