Recently community leaders and stakeholders on the west coast met in Rocky Harbour for a conversation about developing initiatives in Gros Morne National Park. The meeting was an exploration of voices, roles and understanding of the community and organizations surrounding the park. Representatives from Grenfell Campus (faculty, staff and students), Gros Morne National Park, Gros Morne Co-operating Association, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the provincial department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation gathered for an examination of ideas that could become tangible though collaboration.
Colleen Kennedy, the executive director of Gros Morne Co-operating Association (GMCA), is a wearer of many hats in the area and is a key player in the development of tourism in Gros Morne. She expressed the need for a "long-term plan for when the area grows," adding that knowledge and implementation of clean technology such as electric vehicle charging stations are vital to the area's sustainability.
Conversation pointed to the diverse research conducted by Grenfell faculty and students, which has the potential to help with the long-term planning. For example, Grenfell's Dr. Christine Campbell, professor of biology, has developed a list of related research that could help facilitate the process.
There was a consensus among the participants that natural and cultural developments of the area are key. Dr. Svetlana Barkanova, a professor of physics at Grenfell, has been working closely with Gros Morne to help the park acquire Dark Sky Preserve designation, a status which would increase and diversify tourism in GMNP and its enclaves. Participants agreed that work towards sustainability is already being done but communication among organizations needs to improve.
After several priorities were recorded, attendees exercised their "dotmocracy," an activity where individuals vote on issues by placing stickers on their "top picks." This activity identified several initiatives that were realistic and had support from the community: arts in the park, a focus on community engagement, a visitor survey, a business incubation workshop and environmental policy development. Each one of these initiatives will be approached through a sustainability lens with an emphasis on economic growth, cultural development and ecological conservation.
"The desire for collaboration from each of the attending organizations already exists, so the challenge now is to create a well-oiled machine that moves together towards growth and sustainability through clear and inclusive communication," said Ken Carter, director of Grenfell Campus's Office of Engagement.
For more information regarding this or other initiatives involving the Office of Engagement, visit www.grenfell.mun.ca/engagement.
Photo: Parks Canada staff (from left): Carla Wheaton, Trevor Rendell, Jennifer Hoffman and Lois Luke