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Left to right: Mayor Kulesha, Mayor Pages, Mayor Pernarowsky, Vice President Stecklonson, Mayor Mussallem and Mayor McDonald
REPORTING · 28th March 2010
Walter McFarlane
Mark Stecklonson, Vice President of Public Affairs for BC Ferries stated, 'We want to bring people to visit the North.'

Terrace City Council met for a special Committee of the Whole meeting on Friday, March 26th on the proposed bi-weekly ferry changes. Among the honoured guests were Carol Kulesha, Mayor of the Village of Queen Charlotte, Dave McDonald, Mayor of the District of Port Edward, Jack Mussallem, Mayor of Prince Rupert, Barry Pages, Mayor of Masset / Haida Gwaii and Mark Stecklonson, Vice President of Public Affairs, BC Ferries.

Mussallem thanked everyone for coming and pointed out, the number of people present showed just how big of an issue this is. Mayor Dave Pernarowsky of Terrace introduced the meeting:

“The reason we are all together here is because of the proposed changes to BC Ferries advocating on [cutting trips] from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy and down to Tsawwassen. […] The concern that with BC Ferries is proposing is that it’s right in the height of the tourist season and it’s not a test sampling to see whether or not it would work, its 20 trips right at the biggest part of the season. The concern there for residents and hoteliers from the Queen Charlottes right all the way to the Alberta Border is that on a flow through basis, every second day, they have potential clients and customers coming off BC ferries and some of them stay in Rupert, some drive through to Terrace, some the next day will go as far as Smithers, some will go on to Prince George and everyone is used to the existing schedule and there is some concerns about changing it.”

He expressed another concern in the Sacred Circle, the economy has not been at its best and there are people who live across the North who work with BC Ferries and by moving to Tsawwassen may change the perspective of living in the North.

BC Ferries had prepared a slideshow about this. Representatives explained they had seen a drop in traffic, particularly after the sinking of the Queen of the North and they want to see their replacement boat fully utilized. They argued they have heard good feedback from Port Hardy but concern from Prince Rupert. Mussallem would later comment he had spoken to the head of the Vancouver Tourism Association and they were a long way from supporting this product.

The changes were explained. Then, BC Ferries representatives started speaking to the “product” they were offering and how they were going about marketing it. They also showed consumer research where they polled 589 metro Vancouver Adults over the web. 73% were interested in taking a trip to Vancouver or Port Hardy, 59% were willing to take a vehicle and 43% would be interested in returning by train although they decided this was not viable.

Mussallem also later suggested BC Ferries consider a circular route around the province in conjunction with Via Rail whom he is aware they have not consulted as both the Train and the Ferry meet in Rupert.

On the next slide, 71% said they would stay overnight and explore the area around the destination, 48% wished to explore the North or Vancouver Island and 40% would take the ferry to the Queen Charlottes.

Stecklonson commented when he presents on this topic in the lower mainland, people say they want to visit Prince Rupert and the Queen Charlottes, a majority of them do not wish to take a vehicle and they see this as a good promotion and cannot understand why Prince Rupert is opposed to this. He said they want to bring people to visit the Sacred Circle.

Attempting to make sense of the statistics, along with the statements, presented some conflicting information. A majority of passengers want to explore the north while they suggest reduced sailings. Stecklonson stated a majority do not want to take a vehicle, yet a slide showed 59% were willing to take a vehicle.

The general feedback was the Mayors did not want to lose what they already had because it would take time to figure out if the service will work or not and during this time the hospitality industry would suffer for it. It was suggested they do this while the economy is growing, not while in a state of decline.

The Mayors questioned the research and stated they were uncertain if there were enough cabins onboard the ferries to support passengers to the North. One commented they were not hearing the answers. It was also pointed out the trip would not be economical. On the topic on the staterooms, BC Ferries stated there were hotels along the route for people who do not have staterooms on the ferries. The Mayors countered: now they have 55 room hotels pulling up to their communities.

The conversation bounced back and forth around the room on the topics above. One thing BC Ferries Representatives did say was they are interested in selling packages to people who wish to visit the Sacred Circle as a tourist destination. Stecklonson commented: “You’ve got some very unique products up here you don’t advertise.”

The Mayors joked about being among the unique products. However, they walked away with the message: BC Ferries is willing to listen.
Just to brighten your day Adam
Comment by Walter McFarlane on 30th March 2010
Yes you did disparage Wicca, and the word Witch referring to woman disparagingly, demonstrating various bigoted characteristics. The reference to the City of Rainbows was to illustrate your narrow perspective on the term Sacred Circle, nothing more. What the City of Rainbows means is not relevant much like Wicca and the persecution of women, along with the various Google search results, are not relevant to the Sacred Circle.
Here's one for you
Comment by Shawn Ksisiiaks on 30th March 2010
Google "salmon fishing bc" and scan all the hits for a reference to "Terrace" or Skeena". I gave up of the 7th page. At least PR made page 2.

Comment by Barry English on 30th March 2010
I hear that Merv is looking for an advertising salesman Are you interested Adam?
Comment by Adam Kirkwood on 30th March 2010
Walter Walter Walter... I fail to see why my relaying information found on an internet search makes me a bigot... yes, Wicca's a religion... did I disparage that religion? No. I did not. I merely pointed out the difference between the two possible marketing strategies and the names thereof... And, in case you didn't know, City of Rainbows refers to the amount of rain the city receives on an annual basis... it's got nothing to do with gay anything... who's bigoted now?

I hope your comments are/were meant in the spirit of the debate Merv and I had. Light hearted and meant in good fun. If not, then I would say that you've spent too much time beyond the veil of reality. Perhaps it's time to drive east beyond the entrance to Cable Car and see what the rest of the world is doing...

There is one ray of hope in your comments however... put up a FREE BEER sign and I"ll be first in line... I'll even lend you my serving it right number...
Oh and the most obvious name
Comment by Danny Nunes on 30th March 2010
Well since we are trying to attract baby boomers and Kitimat is starting a campaign to attract retirees why not name the region "Jurrasic Park"

Marketable names list for google search
Comment by Danny Nunes on 30th March 2010
1. Lady GaGa Land
2. Justin Beiber County
3. Twilight Vampire Cove
4. Tiger Woods Mistress Reserve
5. Obama is a socialist island

Had a good laugh myself
Comment by Walter McFarlane on 29th March 2010
Interesting debate on the Skeena Nass. point goes to Merv... why? He did not have to resort to Bigotry to make his point.

While the phrase Sacred Circle might relate to Wicca, let us not forget that Wicca is also a RELIGION!!! Way to put your name to bigotry in a newspaper.

Not to mention, by the Logic presented, as Prince Rupert is branded the "City of Rainbows," does that mean the majority of people who come to Prince Rupert support the Gay Pride movement.

Of course, Kitimat is neither on the Skeena or the Nass... We have our own river system. How about we brand the Region Skeena Nass Kitimat and several other rivers I'm forgetting.

If we really want to brand the region in a way to attract people, just brand the region: FREE BEER and watch what shows up. You heard of the Sunshine Coast, We're the Moonshine Coast... More bars in more places.

If Sacred Circle doesn't float your boat, how about the Sacred Land, Sacred Forest, the Sacred Waters, Land of Wonder, The Northern Edan, The Northern Paradise or Joe Bob was here.
Thank you...
Comment by Adam on 29th March 2010
Thanks Chris, it was a nice little bit o'banter to occupy what was a fairly dreary morning...

I can honestly tell you that if more people listened to me, the world would be a much better place...

Good thing Merv has 10,000 page views per day


You two are great
Comment by C. Arnold on 29th March 2010
Loved the back and forth Adam and Merv! It was nice to see the dialogue without either of you getting ticked off completely at the other. Good job. Adam I'm not sure what you do for a living but I think you should be more involved in our area's marketing!
And wait you will
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 29th March 2010
I cannot argue with such an exciting impeccable argument. Skeena it is.
Baby Boomer...
Comment by Adam Kirkwood on 29th March 2010
Let's say Bert and Martha (names changed to protect the innocent) are deciding on travel plans... they've watched all the olympic coverage... especially the opening ceremonies... they are interested in what BC has to offer... so, they start where the computer semi-literate always start. With a call to their grandchildren to get them to come over and help them with the inter-web. Billy shows Bert how to google. They google British Columbia Native Culture. The first ad to pop up is for They do what everyone does, they click on the first ad they see. As they scroll down the page (about half way) they see a list of all the regions of BC. Bert, fancying himself a fisherman has heard from Stan, the neighbor who has been mowing parts of his lawn recently in a thinly veiled attempt to take over part of Bert's yard for a boat shed, that the fish in Northern BC are the biggest you'll ever see. Well, Bert's interested and he clicks on it. Frustrated by what he finds, he then, with BIlly's help, googles Northern British Columbia Fishing. pops up in the search results. "Now we're talking" says Bert and begins to read. He reads until he finds what he's looking for (oddly enough, halfway down the page). A paragraph extoling the virtues of the Skeena River and the enormous fish that are found there. Bert clicks on the hyperlink and there's another page dedicated to the Skeena Valey and the Skeena River and it's proximity to Alaska. Bert and Martha have always wanted to go to Alaska and decide to pack up the Winnebago and head north. They stop all along the way, soaking up the heritage and catching fish along the way. Once past Prince George and Vanderhoof, they find what they're looking for. Pristine wilderness, rivers teeming with fish, no pulpy smell. It's heaven on earth and they've found it. They decide to stay and live out their retirement fishing and hiking and doing all the stuff we've been known for for centuries. They never make it to Alaska.

Now, picture Bert clicking on the hyperlink sacred circle and the first site that pops up is Wicca this, and tarot that and Billy screams and runs home to tell his parents that gramma's a witch. Billy's father says, "yeah, tell me something I don't know".... His wife overhears and divorces him and Billy and Susie are thrown into foster care because their parents descend into a life of alcohol and over the counter perscription durg use......

Okay, that last bit might not happen, but the moral of my story is, use what we've got. Make it better and shinyer. Skeena is nothing to shake a stick at. Because when Bert and Martha discover us, they'll tell Irene and Max and they'll tell Gertrude and Paul and so on and so on and eventually, their children will come to visit and decide it's the place for them and the little stone thrown into the pond will have rippled outwards until we're back on top...

And that's why I still live here... patiently waiting...

And you make my arguement for me
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 29th March 2010
We seldom participate in these back and forths. But here we are. You know about the Napa, due to them marketing wine, not by them spouting the word Napa. They will know about the Skeena by us marketing something else desirable.

Then as they read and see the marketing of Totem Poles, Feast Halls and Native Culture, yes, your marketing could say "Google The Skeena".

Thinking the other way is dyslexic. Find another word if you must, that will capture the travelling Baby Boomers attention. Skeena or Nass and the Northwest are born losers, when it comes to sexy, free, or catchy.
Comment by Adam on 29th March 2010
You'd google Skeena because we told you to... another principle of marketing...

And with regards to Napa and the wine, Napa is the valley the wine is grown in. Skeena is the valley the native art and culture is grown in... you make my argument for me...

I commend you on your stick-to-itiveness... whether I agree or not with what's on here at any given time it's still where I go to find local news and perhaps even take the chance to spout off on what I believe... maybe, with a little work-together-itivness from everybody involved and marketing Skeena for what it is and was and can be will make us all stronger and better and maybe, just maybe, we'll get back to where we once were... I know, there I go being all optimistic again, I guess it's a character flaw...
Yup I agree too
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 29th March 2010
But why would anyone outside of this region google the word Skeena? or Nass? If you consider your market, those whom you wish to bring here, those with money to spend, Roger Brooks laid it on the table. The aging baby boomer (95 million people) controls 80 percent of North Americas wealth and 80 percent of all travel spending is done by baby boomers.

Maybe you have lived here a bit too long, like so many others, that can't see the forest for the trees, but the native culture, represented by the word sacred is clearly the top dog.

We have what the travelling baby boomer wants. Brooks had many examples. He even stated he spent thousands on native artwork while visiting.

Napa Valley didn't get known because they marketed themselves as being the 'Napa' they did it by marketing wine.

The Terrace Daily now has an international audience and receives on average 10,000 page views a day. This after only three years and no Chamber/TEDA/City support. Seems we know something too. But if the City refuses to acknowlege Roger Brooks advice after spending the money for it, well, no surprise there.

You're right...
Comment by Adam Kirkwood on 29th March 2010
It's about marketing. I understand marketing. I've marketed with great success. So, it makes sense me that, if you're going to market the first nations culture and all it has to offer, why not use the name the first nations picked? Hell, it's already in Wikipedia...

Try Google-ing Skeena and then Google sacred circle. Skeena points directly to our region and gives very specific examples of what it is. Sacred Circle points to all manner of things like tarot cards and Wicca. Granted, the name Skeena has been around WAY longer and that's why the google search is skewed, but that's one principle of marketing that I've used in the past with great success. Use what you already have going for you and make it better. The ground-work has been laid, let's expand on it. There's an idiom that was written about extensively on this very site not that long ago that applies directly to this story. KISS. Changing the name of our region is akin to Totem Furniture changing their long-standing and very prominent name to "Sean and Susan's Furniture Shack" and trying to make a go if it...

That's just my opinion, of course there are varying ones and we'll probably hear a good number of them in the very near future... and if I hurt anyone's feelings by calling the Sacred Circle "froofy" I apologise, that wasn't my intent. It was early and I couldn't find a better word.
Skeena Nass
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 29th March 2010
It is called marketing. If you wish to market to the locals, most of who haven't the money to spend, call it something only they will understand. Everyone who understands marketing knows that sex and free sells, it has nothing to do with reality. You get them here and then they will see. To get the babyboomers here and tourists from all across the world, you need to use something unique, catchy.

TEDA paid big bucks to bring up a marketing genius and somehow comprehension has failed. Doing the Kermodei thing and advertising the region on our local TV seems just about as futile.

The only question is if you want the big buck tourists or not. Froofy? Ya, typical tough guy image. Retain that and stay poor. I can just hear the prople in California now talking excitedly about the Skeena Nass. As if it is the sexyist combination of words they have ever heard.

It is called marketing. Even the guy from BC Ferries could see we were not marketing what we have. Is it all because those in positions of influence harbour bigotry? The guy who helped most of them attain some wealth over the past five decades doesn't resent the aboriginal culture, why they do is suspect, and will ensure continued desperation and acrimony.
Comment by Adam on 29th March 2010
Why can't we call our region what it is? Skeena. One word. Easy to spell, not to froofy... Skeena.