Sasamat centre to get beautified as B.C. looks to jumpstart tourism industry

The Sasamat Outdoor Centre is set to get $476,642 worth of improvements as the province attempts to rebuild B.C.’s tourism community amid the pandemic, according to an announcement released Friday.

“With this funding, the Sasamat Outdoor Centre will be able to replace infrastructure and improve accessibility so they can draw more visitors to our community for special events like weddings, retreats, and youth camps,” stated Port Moody-Coquitlam MLA Rick Glumac in the release.

Besides being a beautification project, the money is slated to make the summer camp spot more environmentally sustainable and better able to offer a range of programs, according to the release.

The cash earmarked for Sasamat is part of a $21.3 million infusion into tourism projects across the province. That sum also includes $240,000 to improve wayfinding signage and kiosks in Port Moody.

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Taking a virtual approach

Following a pitch from former Green Party political candidate Bryce Watts in the summer of 2021, Port Moody council considered promoting the sights and sounds of Port Moody via virtual reality.

Likening his company to other tech platforms that charge money to access user-created content, Watts pushed the idea of VR Voyage customers exploring Port Moody with goggles and a headset, ideally increasing the municipality’s profile as a tourism destination once pandemic restrictions are lifted.

Despite vacancies on Port Moody’s tourism committee, council voted unanimously to refer the issue to their tourism committee.

Over in Coquitlam

Discussing the future of tourism in 2021, Coquitlam’s tourism manager Eric Kalnins suggested there could be more interregional trips and a greater emphasis on the outdoors.

“People want to get outside. They’ve got nowhere else to go,” Kalnins said, noting the “unprecedented pressure” on the Coquitlam Crunch and local parks.

A new plan will likely appeal to niche markets like trail runners, bird watchers and foodies.

“There’s an extreme amount of pent-up demand for travel,” he noted. “The flipside,” he adds, “is competition’s going to be fierce.”

Cooperation could be an antidote, Kalnins reasoned, suggesting municipalities could pool resources and promote craft beer or mountain biking throughout the region.

“Most people don’t know where the boundary between Port Moody, Coquitlam [and] Port Coquitlam,” he added.

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