Hawkesbury council had decided it is not the time to create a tourism advisory committee which would have discussed ways of developing tourism opportunities in the town.

At the October 1 council meeting, Councillor Antonios Tsourounakis introduced a motion that would have established the committee and included one councillor, one employee each from the town clerk’s, recreation and tourism departments, and/or a by-law officer.  The committee was also to be composed of the executive director of Tourisme Prescott-Russell Tourism (TPRT), a representative of Le Chenail Cultural Centre, and three community members representing interests such as accommodation, fishing, marinas, catering, outdoor activities, culture, and heritage.

Tsourounakis said that the committee was needed in order to better develop Hawkesbury’s potential as a tourist destination, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 30 empty business spaces downtown, and the imminent closure of Goulet Motosports, a popular attraction for motorcyclists.

“I am completely against,” said Councillor Raymond Campbell.

He said that the COVID-19 pandemic is everywhere, and that a committee is not going to solve the problems it has caused.  He also questioned if up to three municipal employees need to be involved with the committee.  Campbell said he would rather wait until the pandemic has eased before any decision is made.

Councillor André Chamaillard questioned how much of a time commitment the committee would require.  Mayor Paula Assaly suspected it could be approximately an hour per month for meetings.

“The wheels of municipal politics turn very slowly,” said Tsourounakis.  He preferred to have the committee formed so that suggestions and strategies are in place when the pandemic has diminished or ended.  He said that any municipal employees who would be involved are already on the payroll.

“Ideas and discussions do not cost money,” said Tsourounakis.

Councillor Yves Paquette questioned if now is the time to be welcoming visitors to the community due to the pandemic.

“We need to wait a little,” he said.

Councillor Robert Lefebvre’s view was similar to Paquette’s.

“I think this committee would be a bit premature,” he said.

Councillor Lawrence Bogue commented that the committee is necessary.

Assaly said that the motion was only about beginning the process of establishing the tourism advisory committee and developing strategies.

Council defeated the motion four to three.