To the Editor
I have read with dismay and concern the issues that the municipality and the owners of the Haliburton Forest face in today’s responsibilities to community and economies.
Where is the future of this municipality? Where is the future of Haliburton Forest?
I have had the opportunity over the past 60 years of accessing the land resources now under the ownership of Haliburton Forest. I have used them extensively for some of my recreational activities and showed them to people from all over Canada the United States and Europe. The present land base owned by the company is a possible “jewel” for the future tourism development and direction of this area and indeed for the province.
You have to think however very large. Tourism today is not yesterday's tourism. It is not a Toronto market. It is a global market. What I see as an opportunity in Haliburton Forest is the development of a total tourism community or village around the fact of its ever expanding “natural” land base.
The creation of a Whistler type town catering to outdoor activities but also total vacations with hotels shopping residential ownership conventions education centres museums or displays etc.
There exist with this property natural recreational amenities of water (lakes and rivers) potential ski hills zip lines flora and fauna etc.
All of these can be used to create a Disneyland type of experience for families and individuals. I am sorry to use the Disneyland word but it is for describing the size and magnitude of the endeavour that I see as a possibility. A development of this type would soon overcome the problem that our area has a “dead end” destination.
Today's provincial government is telling us that in order to compete in the world of tourism this is the kind of market development it will pursue and promote. I personally do not like this kind of development on the natural land base that I have the privilege of using from time to time but I am a dinosaur and about to become extinct. Housekeeping cabins are out. Lodges have had their extreme decline. Painting and repairing old buildings or taking shortcuts for the purpose of saving money time and paperwork doesn't cut it any more.
It is always a chase for increased wealth and the creation of long lasting employment but the old methodology and thinking does not work anymore. We have been tilting at windmills. Peter Scleifenbaum has created and brought some great “home run” attractions but in my opinion notwithstanding his imaginative mind they are now too small to have the necessary effect both for the Forest and the community.
It would be my hope that the Forest can take on a new expanding venture of enticing huge partnering investment in the future of Haliburton tourism by utilizing its valuable multifunctional land base.
The money required is in the hundreds of millions (even billions) of dollars but there is such venture capital out there and if within such an idea it is proposed I am sure that the local municipal government and all other governing bodies would within required regulations embrace it and provide the necessary supporting infrastructure.
There is a saying that applies to us all in the promotion of this area: “go big or go home.”
David M. Bishop