Cumberland County Heritage Network Society

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Support for the Cumberland County Heritage Network: an Open Letter

Dear Residents of Cumberland County:

On behalf of the board and members of the Cumberland County Heritage Network, I am taking this seasonal opportunity to thank you for your support of our county’s many heritage and cultural sites over the past year. We are also seeking your continued support in the forthcoming year, particularly in regards to the potential budget restraints being considered by the Provincial government.

Our network is made up of active community organizations that play a role in the preservation of our county’s heritage and culture, scattered from Advocate to Malagash (with an associate member in Tatamagouche). We recognize the importance of this resource to our communities and have organized ourselves in order to assist in the promotion and development of heritage and tourism throughout the county. We help to provide the framework for a strong, healthy and forward thinking “community”.

Although many of our sites are operated by volunteer groups we also employ county residents and provide summer jobs and career opportunities for our youth. We collect, preserve, interpret, research and display a wide range of our cultural and natural heritage, and we encourage a wide audience, including both residents and visitors to view exhibits and live theatre, to participate in festivals and events and to pursue their own research.

As a group we help to attract tens of thousands of visitors to our region each year. Our future is dependent on the public’s awareness of what we are doing on behalf of our communities, and why it is important to all of us, by providing opportunities for all residents to participate. It is difficult to imagine what would happen to many of our activities if the possible budget cuts become a reality.

Think of the special events that are organized and held each year that show case our local history, culture and natural heritage. Christmas teas, craft sales and house tours, pancake and maple syrup suppers, the Blessing of the Crops in Minudie, the Gathering of the Clans in Pugwash, Parrsboro’s Rockhound Roundup, Wild Blueberry Festival events, and the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts festival held in Amherst.

Are county residents aware of the economic impact that heritage, culture and tourism have on our communities? Over 900 Cumberland County residents work directly in tourism related jobs, $ 34 million needed tourism dollars are brought into our economy, helping generate approximately $ 13 million in wages. A significant portion of the county’s tourism product is dependent on the sites in our network to attract visitors. While less than 10% of the tourism dollars flows through our cultural and heritage sites, the balance is spent in local restaurants, accommodations, stores and gas stations.

When you consider that there are 1.9 million visitors to Nova Scotia each year, it should be noted that 54% of these visitors enter through Amherst and Tidnish. This suggests that we have an opportunity to significantly enhance the County’s share if we can divert more of this traffic towards our communities and our sites.

What does Cumberland County have to offer to both visitors to our region and residents? We provide opportunities for sight seeing, coastal experiences and for experiencing our culture and heritage. What activities are most visitors likely to participate in? Enjoying nature walks/hiking, historic sites, visiting museums, live theatre and learning about their historic roots.

The development of partnerships with our communities and related businesses and services are essential to ensuring that Cumberland County offers an alternative destination package to Nova Scotia’s visitors. CCHN members have been active participants in the ongoing development of both the Fundy Shore and Northumberland Tourist Destination Area products, with linkages to the central region.

Although we represent a wide range of sites, we do have common issues and concerns. Our financial resources are limited and are very carefully used to cover our operational expenses. Each New Year the same or diminishing resources are required to cover increasing operating expenses. Cuts at this time would represent a potentially overwhelming loss in our resources and may seriously undermine our collective ability to function.

In closing we hope everyone in Cumberland County has a safe and Happy Holiday and Best Wishes for the New Year. Please take some time to reflect on our County’s historic past and the vibrant culture we share today. We need your help to ensure that both visitors to our county and our residents will be able to continue to enjoy participating in our future.

Ken Adams
Vice-Chair, Cumberland County Heritage Network

PS: If you want to find out more information about our network and heritage and cultural activities in Cumberland County please contact your local member of the Cumberland County Heritage Network or call 1-866-856-DINO.

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