© Star photo by Gary Kean
Folklorist Amanda Marie Hillyard, coordinator of the Deer Lake Heritage Project, makes notes during the Grand Lake Centre of Economic Development’s regional strategic planning session in Cormack Saturday.
Lloyd Hollett already runs one of the more successful tourist attractions in western Newfoundland, but knows fostering growth in other sectors could bring him even more business.
The owner of the Newfoundland Insectarium was one of about 20 people from the Humber Valley area who attended the regional strategic planning session hosted by the Grand Lake Centre of Economic Development in Cormack Saturday.
The session focused on opportunities for economic development within the region, trying to identify both the existing strengths of the area and the gaps.
Hollett thought Saturday’s exercise was worthwhile and an eye-opener to what’s happening beyond the walls of his own business.
“When you’re involved in the industry, you’re so totally focused on the part you’re involved in and you don’t look at the whole picture,” he said during a break in the session. “The discussion here today is about the whole picture, whether it’s tourism, agriculture, transportation or whatever.”
Among the many ideas discussed were a marina somewhere on Deer Lake, upgrades of the heavily travelled Viking Trail from Deer Lake to the Northern Peninsula, the need to have more activity in the local agriculture industry and for people to buy more homegrown food products from the region.
That the Humber Valley is far from living up to its potential was the consensus in the room, according to Hollett.
“The Humber Valley is probably the gem of the whole province and it’s untapped,” he said.
Glenda Garnier, president of the Grand Lake Centre of Economic Development, agreed. The participants, which mainly consisted of the centre’s board of directors and representatives from the region’s municipalities, identified agriculture, tourism and cultural heritage as three of the main areas where development could take place.
Culturally, Garnier said the group expressed the need for more performance venues and interpretation of local heritage for visitors.
“We thought there are many activities that are specific and unique to Newfoundland and that there were opportunities to build on those experiences,” she said.
Another idea that came up was the need for an Atlantic salmon interpretation centre on the Humber River, preferably at Big Falls where salmon can be watched trying to leap over the natural obstacle on heir way to the spawning grounds further upstream.
“We felt Big Falls is an underutilized resource that is not well-known and not well-promoted,” said Garnier.