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Provincial funding a “godsend” for Grande Cache

The Town of Grande Cache plans to make the most of every penny it was just given by the provincial government. It’s been awarded $325,000 from the Coal Community Transition Fund to help it diversify its economy.

Chief Administrative Officer Denise Thompson says the funds will be used on tourism and marketing.

“The whole purpose of this granting program… is to take us from being so dependent on the resource-based industry to diversification. No matter what the price of oil is, or natural gas or coal, when you diversify you can create more stable, predictable, and measured economy.”

There is already renewed optimism in the community, with the sale of the Grande Cache coal mine approved by a Calgary court earlier this year. When the mine closed two days before Christmas 2015, its remaining workers were put out of work.

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While that industry is returning to the town, Thompson says they want to focus on promoting their outdoor recreation opportunities. That means setting themselves apart from Jasper and Banff.

“It’s untouched wilderness; it is a big back yard, so if you like to hike, mountain bike, paddle board, horseback ride, quad, skidoo, cross country ski, golf, camp, it’s all here. Anything you want to do in the raw outdoors, it’s right here out our backdoors.”

The town’s projects include helping tourism businesses with their training and marketing, bringing in a food blogger to highlight places to eat, adding more signs to get Highway 40 travellers to explore the town, and hiring a corporate events coordinator to get small and medium-sized businesses to consider using the town for workshops and team building exercises.

“People could be going white water rafting as a team builder,” says Thompson, “and we need to get those tourism operators skilled and in place and give them the resources of marketing and have somebody coordinating all that.”

The plan will be rolled out over 18 months, and Thompson says they plan to stretch every dollar. The town is currently in a viability study, and more money is needed to promote tourism than its property taxes will cover.

“It is a godsend, because this absolutely, unequivocally would not have happened without this grant.”

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