News | DrumhellerMail - Page #24
Last updateThu, 21 Sep 2023 8am

Strong seasonal tourism numbers

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Summer in the valley has for decades been a mecca for visitors coming to enjoy the vistas and the historic and prehistoric assets it has to offer.
2023 has not been the exception, in fact, the tourism industry in the valley is going strong.
Debbie Schinnour, Tourism Service manager for the Drumheller District Chamber of Commerce tells the Mail, the World’s Largest Dinosaur and the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) are seeing a big uptake in visitors wanting to get all they can out of the valley.
“I can tell you we are very, very busy,” Schinnour tells the Mail. She adds they are working on implementing a virtual experience at the VIC to help better serve some visitors, and they are working on getting it up and running.
“It is good to see people coming back in and asking because for three years our numbers were down, but it is great to see them back in and wanting maps and pamphlets again,” she said.
One gauge of the tourism season in the valley is the Royal Tyrrell Museum. After a record-breaking year last season, they are back on track for another great year.
“The Royal Tyrrell Museum’s visitor numbers so far this year are on par with the high attendance we saw in 2022. We are pleased to report that bookings for our summer programs have also been going extremely well,” said executive director Lisa Making. “This year we launched the new ‘Badlands Adult Hike,’ which has been well received. We look forward to even more Drumheller residents and visitors discovering the fossils, plants, animals, and history of the amazing badlands that surround us.”
Travel Drumheller is working on tracking numbers by surveying operators and the service industry, and many accounts are that it is another busy season in the valley. Travel Drumheller executive director Julia Fielding says hotel and campgrounds stays are strong.
She says experiences are definitely up with institutions like the Atlas Coal Mine and the Tyrrell reporting strong visitorship.
She does note operators in the service industry are reporting a mixed bag, with some restaurants and cafes reporting a slight drop, while others having a bumper year. This could be because of greater offerings, with more options for food and shopping in the valley. This shows growth in the capacity of the valley in its ability to host visitors.
“The level and the quality… it is getting more competitive,” said Fielding. “Our biggest thing is let's get that season longer, and I know people are exhausted, but we need to extend the season.”

Drumheller, Rosedale first responders attend motor vehicle accident call

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Members of Drumheller and Rosedale fire halls, as well as RCMP and EMS responded to a call for a single vehicle collision on Thursday, August 17 at around 11:45 a.m. on Range Road 193. Fire crews were informed the vehicle was in a precarious position, though the driver had exited the vehicle. The driver, the only passenger in the vehicle, sustained minor injuries in the accident and was attended to on scene by EMS before being transported to Drumheller Health Centre for treatment. At this time the cause of the accident is unknown and is being investigated by RCMP.

Assistance available to farmers affected by ag disaster

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With neighbouring municipalities amongst the growing number who have declared municipal states of agriculture disaster, affected farmers and producers in the Kneehill, Starland, and Wheatland County areas may be looking at what assistance is available to them.
The decision for each municipality to declare an agriculture disaster was prompted due to low soil moisture levels and high heat which has impacted growing conditions throughout much of the province. As of Friday, August 11 a total of 15 municipalities across the province have declared agriculture disaster, with the first declaration made by County of Stettler on June 15; Wheatland County declared its own agriculture disaster on July 5, while Kneehill and Starland County made the declaration on July 25 and July 26 respectively.
“The declaration is a means of informing other levels of government of the severity of the situation facing local agriculture,” Kneehill County Parks and Agricultural Services acting manager Fallon Sherlock tells the Mail.
Ms. Sherlock explains, despite the declaration, no additional assistance programs from either the provincial or federal governments have been made available, though some existing programs are available through Agriculture Financial Services Canada (AFSC).
According to the Alberta Crop Report, precipitation accumulation is near normal across much of the province, though there are areas, including Wheatland County, which have seen moderately low to low precipitation accumulation levels. This has resulted in poorer crop quality, with only about 35.3 per cent of all crops in the Central region rated as between Good to Excellent condition; this is down from the five and 10-year average of 63.4 per cent.
“Some producers will be experiencing more distressing conditions than others where precipitation may be too late to make a noticeable difference to growing conditions, but surely the whole community is feeling the dry conditions and understands that this is going to be challenging moving forward,” Wheatland County Agriculture and Environment manager George Bloom explains.
Some support is available to affected producers, including the Insurance Response Program through AFSC, or the provincial and federal cost sharing AgriRecovery Process program. Mr. Bloom notes if there is a shortage of feed, some crops may be put to alternate uses and acknowledges the challenges being faced by area farmers could have a wider spread impact on food supply and the economy.
The Mail also reached out to Starland County, but as of press time had not received response back.


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