Town council approved the six-month contract proposal during a special teleconference session May 29. Mayor Pauyla Assaly cast the deciding vote in a 4-3 split decision on the proposal.
“This is not necessarily an invitation for people (tourists) to start coming here,” said Mayor Assaly, noting that the goal is to be ready as the provincial government’s step-by-step plan for restarting Ontario’s economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic results in tourists making their way to Hawkesbury again.
Councillor Antonios Tsourounakis presented the short-term contract proposal. He and Nicole Trudeau, Hawkesbury recreation and tourism director, met the day before with representatives for Le Chenail to discuss the matter.
Last year the town had a 12-month agreement with Le Chenail for tourism information services for the 2019-2020 fiscal period. The value of the contract was $25,000.
The six-month limited services contract is $15,000 and runs from June 1 to November 30. The town and Le Chenail would renegotiate any extensions at the end of November.
The provincial pandemic plan to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic shut down Le Chenail’s spring operation. That included its series of live concerts, art exhibits, and other activities.
But, Tsourounakis noted, the skeleton staff at the centre’s office on Île du Chenail still get people dropping in to ask questions about local attractions like Confederation Park, or asking to use the washroom facility.
“People still do go out to take a walk in the park,” Tsourounakis said. “So we’d just be defraying some of the expenses they (Le Chenail) already have. It’s not a great amount (to spend) to have a welcome face at the doorstep of Hawkesbury.”
Councillors Robert Lefebvre, Raymond Campbell, and Yves Paquette voted against the proposal, expressing concern the wisdom of any kind of tourist information setup when the province is still under emergency health alert status because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Councillors André Chamaillard and Lawrence Bogue agreed with Mayor Assaly and Councillor Tsourounakis that a limited form of tourist information service through Le Chenail would be useful.