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October 27, 2017 4:56 pm

Relocating Visitors Centre Still On City’s Radar

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 5:55 AM

Prince George, B.C.-  It  is a question that is  asked  whenever  Prince George Tourism  makes a presentation to City Council,  has there been  any  discussion on moving the Tourism Visitor’s Centre  to a new location?

Currently  on First Avenue , there has  long been  an interest in moving the centre to  the intersection of Highway’s 16 and 97.

Last year, the Visitor centre welcomed 10,734 visitors,  that was a decline of 38% from the previous year.   The decline   the result of shortened summer hours in 2016 over the operating hours that had been offered in 2015.

While Tourism P.G. has made an effort to reach out to visitors where they are, rather than  drawing tourists  to a central point,   the idea of  having a  visitors  centre located at the highest profile intersection in the City  persists.

City Manager Kathleen Soltis  says there have been discussions with  Tourism Prince George  CEO Erica Hummel  “It’s going to take some time  to determine what might be needed in a modern  Visitors model might look like.  So, we will have several more meetings I suspect.”

The desire has been to improve the access to the Mr. P.G. site and locate a visitors centre along side Mr. P.G.



So at one time 97 and 16 was not a good place and they moved it to 1st avenue, a little hole in the bowels of no where, now they want to move back to where it was originally and not a good location. Oh they forgot they moved it originally because they sold the site to the casino.
They will need to do a lot of work on that corner to make the center accessible from all directions…another $50 million?.

    They closed that location in 2012. Let’s see…who was on Council in 2012…oh right…Hall, Krause, Skakun, Frizell, Koehler, Everitt

    It’s time for these 6 to be set free!

I think the 38% drop in use, wasn’t due to the shortened hours of operation.
It probably had more to do with the location, no tourist can find it, (or very few) and when they do they can’t/won’t stop. The location was fine at 97/16 intersection; the city just was greedy and wanted the money!

Be about time, whoever had the very dumb idea of moving it to where it is now should have been fired, no logic whatsoever! Council can take a lesson from Williams Lake as it is beside a ‘major highway’! Gotta be up at 16 and 97 for it to do any good. Council keeps on saying that we want to make PG a destination, so start by making our tourist centre noticeable! Tear down the roll-a-dome and go from there!

    Agree, time for the Roll-a-dome to end. It’s day has come and GONE! That is the ideal location for a Tourist Information Centre; right across from the old location. Gee, fancy that!

      I disagree. Terrible location for accessibility.

When they do find a place for it hopefully it can be easily accessed by tourists with RVs. You know it’s tourist season when you see the RVs heading west trying to find a way onto Hwy 16W from Walmart.

While many people agree the old visitor centre at 16 and 97 needed to be replaced the city council of the time made as usual a very bad decision about what to do and where to move it. Remember the disaster of the one at 15th and Victoria then they shut that one down and moved it to first avenue which was another bad decision it is off the beaten path of many tourists and how many tourists do you know will actively seek out a visitor centre that is not easily findable. As a tourist myself when I visit another city why am I going to drive off a beaten path with a truck and trailer, motor home or bus where navigating city streets is it worth it.

16 and 97 has been the obvious choice as it is the highest traffic volume intersection in the city and highly visible and unlike every other location has readily available and easy to find parking at the Casino. Now it remains to be seen if the city council can actually be smart and intelligent for a change or make one of those infamous bad decisions of the past.

The corner of 16&97 has high visibility and traffic flow but it would be nearly impossible to provide easy access to a location by where Mr. PG now resides especially for large motor homes and 5th wheels.

Any comparison to Williams Lake is not really valid as a vast majority of tourist traffic is north/south so it is a no brainer to locate the tourist booth where it is.

A far better location for PG would be on 97 south maybe where the old weigh scales in the BCR used to be. There are traffic lights and turning lanes to allow for easy access with plenty of room for parking. For east/west traffic a kiosk with limited hours at a gas station in Westgate/Parkridge or airport hill would suffice.

Perhaps a kiosk at Walmart, Pine Centre Mall, and the Casino would be sufficient to supply all the information that tourists might need.

Is it possible that we have too much tourist facilities and not enough tourists.??

    So name some tourist facilities.

    We do not have tourist facilities which entice them to stay more than one night. We continue to have “rubber tire” traffic flowing through out City. The City, and the region within an hour’s drive, is not a tourist destination.

      By too much I mean the big facility on 1st Avenue which cost the City and arm and a leg to purchase. Even before IPG left, this facility was huge for a city our size. Now we have additional space.

      Whats the suggestion for the facility on 1st Avenue if we re-locate.??

      How many tourists arrive by train and use this facility???

      What would be the benefits of relocating from a revenue point of view. I suspect **nil** would cover it nicely.

We could build the downtown pool replacement in the Sears store space when they move out and provide the Tourism PG building in the unused parking lot. Good visibility and access.

The one in Kamloops is opposite the Aberdeen Mall. Large Malls typically have good access. Their business depends on it.

    That’s a good idea as well. The mall might need it to reinvent itself around services in light of the coming retail dark ages.

    You do realize that sears is not closing ALL stores, just selected stores already on a list that has been released. The PG store is not slated to close, yet.

      The company has one months reprieve from creditors and are burning cash by the hundreds of millions.

      Best case scenario is the remaining stores that are profitable, and I assume Pine Center Sears is one of them, get bought out through creditor protection to salvage asset values and stand alone as a separate start up company. Chances of this I think are near 5%. Most likely we will see huge clearance sales and the store will be vacant by the end of summer.

I still think the only location that makes sense is the river front property at the corner of Queensway, Ferry, and Highway 97 just northeast of the highway off ramp interchange.

It is highly visible as one crosses the bridge from the south, and has great views of the river cutbanks if they also sold ice cream and sorts with picnic tables or even a river access dock for river boat tours. The property is large enough for RV parking and access, and is very accessible via Queensway from the east, via Ferry from the west and with the interchange off ramp is accessible for both north and southbound traffic on Highway 97 without any infrastructure needs such as lights or new roads by the city.

While the city is looking to relocate the visitor centre they should also be thinking of installing a proper sani station where they can dump their RVs. A small city RV campground would also be a plus.

Wife and I were just discussing and she indicated that the PG Playhouse “messes up that corner for traffic” and the only thing I see it currently used for is an evangelical or non-denominational worship centre.

That building and the surrounding parking space, grass frontage and proximity to pine centre would make an ideal visitor centre.

It also has in its favour:
a lot of parking,
a golf course with restaurant,
a play place in the rolla dome,
it already has a large dynamic sign,
near auto dealers for out of town customers,
casino and hotel across the way with more food, accommodations, entertainment and even transportation, the fate of tourism
a perfect reference point to provide directions anywhere else
huge interior space that could serve museum or display or educational and historical performances in addition to tourism related merchandising
It is truly the gateway to all of Prince George

The only real development need would be improved access so it is not through or behind auto lots. Let’s not be to blatantly commercialized.

These would leave the current tenant(s) relocating. Some assistance from the stake holder group could ease the transition.

    It won’t work for accessibility. Lowe’s has moved all their garden stuff where an access road through Pine Center could go… the intersection at Superstore on Ferry is a gong show already and then add some large RV units not sure of the landscape.

    I think that land needs to be kept clear for a future overpass with on and off ramps for the 16&97 intersection.

    This is a infrastructure need that will need to be done with any future growth out west as the intersection is already over capacity using Ferry Avenue through residential streets for highway overflow making the left turn from 97 south to 16 west with transport trucks rumbling right by an elementary school. The only upgrade that will fix this is an over/underpass and for that to happen the corner needs to be clear of development as it is now.

    Step one I think is define the future of that intersection and its need for growth and only then should any development of any sort take place on that corner.

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