| Mar 16, 2006

Feature Article - February 23, 2006

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Feature Article - March 16, 2006

$38,000 marketing plan approved forCrown land roads, campsites

by JeffGreen

An unsolicited proposal from Northbridge Consulting to put into place marketing strategies for the Crown Land Stewardship Program (CLSP) has been accepted by the North Frontenac Township Council.

Northbridge is the company that recently completed a marketing study for the township, funded by a $10,000 grant from the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation. The study, which was presented to Council on February 23, contained “Implementation Guidelines” which called for quick action by council in order to be effective for the upcoming tourist season.

Two weeks later, on March 7, Northbridge submitted a nine-page proposal to re-brand the program, establish a 30 page website with an online booking capacity, and undertake an e-marketing plan for the program. The proposal was priced at $38,000 plus mileage. The cost of printing promotional maps and brochures was not included.


The main objective of the plan is to increase the usage of the Crown land campsites from the dismal 9.2% of capacity that was the case in 2005. At one point the Northbridge proposal estimates that the fresh marketing approach should lead to a revenue increase of 15% from permits in 2006, but later projects a revenue increase of over $50,000 in 2006, almost 75%, and based on that projection predicts that the township will recover their marketing costs within the first year, including production and printing costs for maps and brochures.

When the proposal came up for discussion at Council last week, Mayor Ron Maguire said, “We’ve just spent $10,000 of good money to develop the marketing strategy, and we want to see an impact from that starting in 2006. In my opinion we should move on this.”

Councillor Fred Perry agreed, but was concerned that the township does not have a long-term commitment from the Ministry of Natural Resources to maintain the Crown Land Stewardship Program for more than one year at a time.

“I’d hate to invest money in this only to have the province pull the plug after one year,” Fred Perry said, “I’d like to see us get a three or five-year commitment from the province.”

This is apparently not something the Ministry will consider, but the fact that it was the Ministry of Natural Resources that approached the township about this in the first place several years ago, leads Hunter to believe the government will not want to take over responsibility for the roads and campsites anytime soon.

Councillor Bud Clayton opposed the plan, saying, “$40,000 is enough money to maintain the roads for several years. That would be a better way to spend that kind of money.”

Councillor Dave Smith expressed confidence in Northbridge. “They seem to have the heart of the situation, and they have access to the expertise to make this happen. We’ve been talking about this program in terms of its potential to bring tourists into the township for years. It’s time to do something about it.”

“I agree that we don’t have the expertise to develop a marketing plan,” said Deputy Mayor Gleva Lemke, “but I can’t say that I am in favour of spending $40,000 on this proposal at this time. I think we need to look at this further, and maybe do part of it.”

Councillor Wayne Good “I think that it’s a lot of money. I’m not convinced it’s going to be anything more than a one or two year program, especially with the developing land claims.”

“We are trying to make the Crown Land Stewardship Program pay,” concluded Councillor Perry. “I have to trust Northbridge. They are targeting the Ottawa market, which makes sense.”

Councillor Perry then asked township CAO Cheryl Robson if the township’s procurement bylaw permitted entering into a contract like this without giving competitors an opportunity to bid on the job.

Cheryl Robson said it was permitted under the bylaw, provided the company is on the list of vendors of record for the township, which Northbridge is.

In a close vote, Council decided to give the Economic Development Committee the authority to finalise a contract with Northbridge. Councillors Hunter, Perry, Smith and Mayor Maguire, supported the motion, and Councillors Good, Clayton and Deputy Mayor Lemke opposed it. (See “Gambling with taxpayers’ money” on page 3)

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