Saturday, October 23, 2010

PLEASE "don't do it"...

The following news story comes from "" and it casts our Province in shunning out Nova Scotia's businesses from bidding on PEI work and if we keep up this closed shop parochial type thinking then we're going to find PEI firms being shut out of Nova Scotia work... but I think there's even more to this story in that the PEI Tourism geniuses (well they do run our golf business) are thinking along some other lines...

Yes PEI Tourism hit a home run with Regis & Kelly by doing it "in-house" but let's hope they're not crazy enough to "open their own advertisng shop"... it's easy to think you're invincible once you're hit the "homer" but it only takes a "Cirque" project to strike out... I like the concept of working with the smaller firms but why they would want to preclude Halifax agencies like "Extreme or M-5" or other big agencies puzzles me... in my business the Government's construction tenders are public tenders and lots of times major firms like PCL and Bird show up and occasionally win some in our local market but lots of times we show up and win some in their markets... I can certainly understand why they want the "personalized" attention of a smaller firm on this kind of contract but they should at least accept proposals from anyone who shows up with an interest in bidding... if they don’t want to accept the lowest price then set up a open scoring system and at the very least openly "score" them on their abilities before they preclude them... and for our taxpayer's interests PLEASE don't get crazy enough to "Open your own Shop" as another way of creating jobs...

I’d hate to wake up tomorrow and find out the our Government “opened” their own advertising agency and they hired the folks from Tourism Charlottetown to run it... because that’s exactly what we've got in “Golf Links PEI” an unnecessary agency that’s costing our taxpayers millions of dollars every year!!!! PLEASE "Mr. Vessey" don't let them do it....

P.E.I. Shuns Big Halifax Ad Agencies
By Andrew Macdonald
Oct 18-10
Halifax ad agencies have lost an opportunity to gun for the P.E.I. government's tourism campaign -because they are too big. according to Brenda Gallant who directs the Tourism Department's marketing division on the Island.~
The news comes right on the heels of P.E.I.'s hugely successful hosting of the popular American
morning show Regis & Kelly.
Instead of canvassing among the full service ad agencies - like Extreme Group or M-5 - the Robert Ghiz government wants a smaller boutique operator, or an individual who would provide account services and then tender out for things like media buying and producing commercials and other ads.
Grey Worldwide, a Toronto outfit, has had held the circa $600,000 contract to manage P.E.I. multimillion dollar tourism campaign since 2005. Its contract was extended for one year and expires this month.
When Grey took over it replaced Cossette Atlantic.
Many observers believed Extreme or M-5 would be in a position to compete for a new contract.
That's because Colour would be in a conflict, as it runs the Nova Scotia tourism campaign, and
Target does the same job for Newfoundland.
Gallant said yesterday a decision on hiring a new outfit or person could be made by the end of next week. She previously said the tender disqualified firms like Extreme or M-5 and other full service firms.
She said a smaller operator will be able to work hands-on with P.E.I.'s Tourism Department. The move is not, however, expected to save money.
One model which was also considered, was taking the tourism campaign in-house - something that could possibly happen in Nova Scotia, given the Darrell Dexter government is cash-starved.
The N.S. contract runs until November, but there are renewal options with existing contract Colour.
Over at the Dartmouth office of M-5, Jim Megann, its Nova Scotia director, said P.E.I.'s decision to reject the ad agency model should not be a big concern to the industry.
"The agency model has certainly stood its test of time, and while I wish P.E.I. the best in that
endeavour, I don't think it signals anything negative towards agencies," he said in a recent interview.
Paul LeBlanc, founder and co-owner of Extreme, notes Grey was not involved with the Regis & Kelly show, which the "Gentle Island" hosted for a week or the Island's popular music festival. Those programs were drafted in-house.
"The kind of exposure they got from that - you can't buy. And I would suggest if they do it every year they should replicate that," said LeBlanc.
But he said it's a lesson that agencies have to respond to changing times, as marketers feel that
agencies don't or shouldn't have all the answers to growing brands.
"An agency absolutely must change. Agencies in the world must change given the change that
consumers have had (with things like social media)," said LeBlanc.
He added: "Agencies still need to be the custodian of the brand."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Beating a "dead" horse...

We've all heard the old expression "you're beating a dead horse" and that is just exactly how I feel every time I ask the question "what is our government doing in the golf business?" and for the life of me I can't figure out why they want to continue losing millions of dollars in operating revenues each year... and why they can't see that every year they hold on to the courses the values continue to go down... my guest is the $30,000,000.00 they think the 4 Provincial courses are worth might fetch them about half that if they tossed in the financing or if it was just a straight cash sale I don't think they could get $10,000,000.00, but who cares anyway...

What's more troublesome is that the private golf operators in the Cavendish market were up by close to 15% this summer because of the good weather but I have it from a good authority that the Provincial courses were down at least 10%... these lousy Provincial course numbers reinforce my belief that Golf Links PEI squandered $1,500,000.00 on Big Break Mill River which gave us absolutely "no return".... visits this year by American golfers who they were targeting with this hair brain scheme were down by over 30%....

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that there's not much future in the current golf industry as there's very little interest in the game from our younger generation and if you don't believe me just ask the next teenager you meet... but on the other hand why should I be complaining when I can be golfing at Dundarave for $300.00 a year... there’s also the expression “why are you trying to beat a dead horse?” so I may as well enjoy the golf while I can at our taxpayer’s expense...

Golf no longer driving P.E.I. tourism
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
CBC News
There were fewer golfers on P.E.I. last summer, despite the fact there were more tourists and the province has been heavily promoting golf.
Good weather didn't help either. Golf rounds sold for the year up to the end of August were down one per cent.
"It is a little baffling as to why exactly the numbers are flat," John-Anthony Langdale, president of Rustico Resort, which includes both a hotel and golf course, told CBC News Tuesday.
"While we were up in the hotel, the numbers on the golf course didn't reflect the increase in occupancy."
Statistics gathered across the province show this to be the case across the Island. Perhaps even more odd is that golf rounds moved in the opposite direction of room nights sold. When compared to 2009, overnight stays by tourists were up in July and down in August, but up overall. For golf, the situation was reversed: numbers were down in July but up in August and down overall.
Barry MacLeod, chief operating officer for the marketing agency Golf PEI, blames economic conditions.
"It's been a year where we're still feeling the effects of the recession," said MacLeod, "especially from our bigger markets like Toronto and Ottawa, which have traditionally been really good strong markets for us."A look at where people were staying bears out this theory. Occupancy of hotels, inns, and B&Bs were flat, while campgrounds posted a 3.6% gain.
Some luxury services have also suffered. David Gibler of Maritime Luxury Limousine said a few years ago he spent a lot of time driving around large groups of Ontario golfers with money to spend.
"There has been a steady decline of these individuals," said Gibler.
"I'll generally get these guys for maybe four days in a row, and I pick them up for golf and bring them to dinner, and bring them out at night and put them to bed and do it all again the next day. And there's been a real lack of them this year."
Marketing not paying off
The underperformance of P.E.I.'s golf product is particularly disappointing in light of recent investment by the province. Two years ago the province spent close to $1 million marketing golf, promoting the Island on the Golf Channel to try and tap into the U.S. market.
MacLeod said while American golfers are now aware of P.E.I., the recession is still holding some of them back. In particular, the cost of airfare is keeping them closer to home.
"They're used to seeing a lot lower prices than we are used to seeing," he said.
"If we're offering a package for five nights, four rounds, which is $725, and they go online and the airfare price is like $920, they're paying more for airfare than they are for a package. So that presents a challenge."
MacLeod said Golf PEI is working on offering more golf packages that include airfare. He's also banking on the hope the economy will improve, allowing the province to cash in on its marketing investment.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Share the risk...

It's not very often I agree with Jim Bagnall but I must say here that I have to agree with him somewhat, particularly as it relates to how Tourism Charlottetown got themselves bound into a 3 year contract without having some type of escape clause based on the first year's results... on who's responsible I doubt if it was then in coming Minister Vessey as most of the negotiating would have been done long before the event, when he wasn't the Minister... it was probably a group of people, vented by the Board... and had I been a Board member I probably would have entertained something new like "Cirque" as they are very successful in other markets, but I don't know if I could have been sold on a three year deal without some performance check points. I also don't know if an audit will produce anything new other than confirm the actual amount of the loss and that it didn't work, but it would certainly help to recommend how to avoid getting "trapped" into these types of situations in the future...

Bottom line is the "promotion business" is a lot like the "development business" and you have to take risks to be successful... an example of that is back during the Development Plan our government supported start-ups like Benner Ski and Paderno... at the time they both seemed a little farfetched for most Islanders, that we could manufacture skis and pots here... well Benner Ski failed miserably and the government lost some money but on the other hand Paderno has flourished into a solid business enterprise and that investment has easily recouped the Benner losses through jobs and taxes, that still bring returns to all Islanders... you're not always going to have winners but if you don't try new events like "Cirque" then you're never going to keep consumer's attention and maintain or grow your enterprise....

The bigger issue with Tourism Charlottetown is why they want to be a business enterprise taking all the risk... I'm more for situations like the Cavendish Beach Music Festival (a private operator) where government gives them some seed money and they take the risk and if things don't work out then they're on the hook, not the taxpayer... and if they make some money good for them as they'll probably spend it back in our community anyway... so if we're going to have agencies like Tourism Charlottetown, wanting to promote different ideas and venues to attract people here, then why can't they find promoters to share the risks as opposed to always trying to run it themselves... if they can't find anyone private to "run" with their ideas then it's usually a good indication that it's a poor idea in the first place... governments and their agencies should stick to sponsoring and promoting ideas and let others take the risks in delivering them...

Bagnall slams Tourism Department for Cirque failure
Published on October 19th, 2010
Opposition Tourism critic Jim Bagnall is questioning the role of the Department of Tourism in the current financial challenge facing Tourism Charlottetown.
Bagnall wants to know why the organization is looking for a $1-million bailout to cover the losses from this summer’s Cirque du Soleil performances.
“I want to know what role Tourism Minister Robert Vessey and his deputy, Melissa MacEachern, played in the contract process which has already guzzled $250,000 of taxpayers’ dollars, plus $450,000 from ACOA and is likely to cost us another $1 million,’’ Bagnall said Monday.
The Opposition tourism critic noted that during the spring session of the legislature, he raised concerns in the house about “unanticipated costs’’ related to the production contract.
“We warned government then that we were hearing major concerns about the contract, that it had not been properly scrutinized before being signed, but minister Vessey got into a big huff, refused to look into our concerns and criticized me for having the audacity to even raise the issue.’’
Bagnall charged ticket sales have nothing to do with the current financial crisis facing Tourism Charlottetown.
“I’m just not buying that,’’ he said, noting that Myrtle Jenkins-Smith, executive director of Tourism Charlottetown, said in June that ticket sales were going well and the phone was ringing off the hook.
“This is about this government handing over money to a corporation and not bothering to read the contract. They did the same thing when they poured close to $1 million to prop up the Alanis Morissette concert the year before.’’
Bagnall said Vessey’s refusal to look into the Opposition’s concerns was a costly mistake.
“Not only will we end up paying the $1 million to bail them out but who knows how much it is going to cost Tourism Charlottetown to get out of the $6-million, three-year contract it made with Cirque du Soleil.’’
Bagnall wants to know who was responsible for signing the three-year deal.
“Why sign a three-year deal on a show that hasn’t even proved to be successful? I don’t know who was calling the shots but I do know that Island taxpayers will be paying for their mistakes.’’
Bagnall said the Opposition will be tackling the issue in the upcoming session of the provincial legislature.
“We will want to see who’s signatures are on that contract. We will be questioning the lack of oversight on the contract process and we will be calling for the results of the independent review into Tourism Charlottetown.’’

Monday, October 18, 2010

"OMG"... I can't wait for next year!!!!

"OMG"... for those of you who are not facebook followers or "text" freaks I'm sure that "OMG" stands for "OH MY GOD!!!!" and that's exactly what I thought when I read this story.... now I always like to be on the glass half full side but I'm thinking someone just threw my empty glass into the fireplace and although I don't know what the glass throwing tradition is all about (I think it comes from a "Greek" tradition).... why this story is just surfacing now seems "Greek" to me... now the Province is going to hire a Consultant from Halifax to figure this out and wasn't it just last week they fired a Advertising Agency from Halifax because they were too big... I have no idea where I'm going with this but Tourism has hired a number of consultants to give them advice on their golf course investments but they still continue to lose "millions" there every year... so I guess we'll all be waiting for another "big show" next year...
Cirque show has Tourism Charlottetown in debt
Group wants out of contract
Monday, October 18, 2010
CBC News
Tourism Charlottetown is asking for a million-dollar lifeline from the province, in part to cover losses from poor ticket sales to a new Cirque du Soleil show over the Canada Day weekend.
The group announced the show for Summerfest in March, and in the days leading up to the festival, the outlook was good.
"Ticket sales are going very well, phone ringing off the wall for the last number of weeks as people realize now we have this," said Tourism Charlottetown executive director Myrtle Jenkins Smith in June.
"It's just been building every day since Cirque du Soleil has arrived, so we're very, very optimistic."
The Cirque show was meant to revitalize a festival that had run into trouble. Under the name Festival of Lights, it had been a financial success for years, but also had a reputation for attracting drunken crowds to the downtown. In 2009 organizers began revamping the show with more family-friendly acts but ticket sales flopped both years.Cirque du Soleil was meant to revitalize Charlottetown's Canada Day festival. (CBC)
Traditionally, the Canada Day weekend event covers about half of the annual costs for Tourism Charlottetown. The organization is now looking for a loan from the province to pay its bills.
"That target is moving around. It will be in the $1 million range. It could be a little bit less, it could be a little bit more," president Doug Newson told CBC News Friday.
"If we get the short-term financing that we need, it will certainly go to meet some payables."
Tourism Charlottetown is now trying to escape from the three-year, $6-million deal with Cirque du Soleil.
"We've realized that the risk and the exposure with that type of event is something that we just can't continue," said Newson.
"At this point in time we are in negotiations with Cirque to probably get out of the next two years of the contract."
The province has hired a consultant from Halifax to do a review of Tourism Charlottetown. Newson hopes the recommendations from that review will put the organization on the path to financial stability.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Truth In Numbers....

Here's the most recent numbers on unemployment in Canada and PEI “leads the Nation” so I can only imagine how the spin doctors at Innovation PEI will respond to this news by trying to make it positive... they may need the help of their Tourism counterparts who released numbers today that showed golf was only down 1% year to date.... but if you dig deep into the Tourism numbers you would see that golf was up 373.3% in April (our unusual early spring) and April's numbers were factored into these "year to date figures" to make it sound better I guess?

Bottom line is golf was down about 6% on average and probably much higher at our Government owned courses and my guess is our unemployment figures are just catching up to our loss of the positive PNP program that our Tory Opposition has driven into the ground... here's a copy of the most recent PEI Tourism Indicators

Prince Edward Island hit with significant job losses in September
Published on October 12th, 2010
The Canadian Press
September unemployment by provinces
OTTAWA — Canada’s national unemployment rate was 8.0 per cent in September. Here’s what happened provincially (previous month in brackets):
— Newfoundland 13.5 (14.0)
— Prince Edward Island 13.6 (11.2)
— Nova Scotia 9.0 (9.0)
— New Brunswick 9.8 (9.6)
— Quebec 7.7 (8.2)
— Ontario 8.8 (8.8)
— Manitoba 5.4 (5.6)
— Saskatchewan 5.5 (4.8)
— Alberta 6.2 (6.5)
— British Columbia 7.5 (7.3)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Downe on Tax Evaders... and for good reason!

Pretty interesting story in the Financial Post today by Diane Francis and it shows just how hard our local Senator Downe is working on behalf of all Canadians... all monies recovered from this process, which will be a substantial sum, comes back into Government's general revenues and reduces our taxes. He makes a very valid point that if we are ever going to track these cheaters down then the Canada Revenue Agency are going to have to step up their efforts in doing so.... great work Senator Downe...

Canada: sucker nation for tax cheats

Diane Francis, Financial Post, October 7, 2010

In 2008, stories broke in the international media that a whistleblower in Liechtenstein had sold information in 2006 to various tax departments in the US, Australia and others about alleged tax evasion. Canadians were cited.

In question and answer period in the House of Commons, Canada’s government said it doesn’t pay for such information. But the US, Australia, Germany and others had already swung into action and have imposed jail sentences and huge fines.

It took a year for Canadian Senator Percy Downe to get answers, under Ottawa’s Access to Information Act, to make sure that even if the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) didn’t pay, they were pursuing evaders.

The answer in November 2009 was there was about C$100 million in Liechtenstein bank accounts related to 106 Canadian citizens and the “CRA anticipates that it will reassess approximately C$17 million in taxes, interest and penalties.”

Unsatisfied with the delay in action, the Senator sent another request in November 2009 and this week was told that as of June, 26 cases involving 68 individuals had been completed, including 20 residents of Canada who came forward under the Voluntary Disclosure Program; $5.2 million was assessed in back taxes and penalties but an undisclosed amount was unpaid due to appeals and that no one has been charged with tax evasion.

“Unlike the United States, Germany and other countries that moved aggressively and rapidly to recoup any unpaid taxes that were owed, Canada took another tactic: strong words promising action, but little effort to make recovery of unpaid taxes a priority,” wrote the Senator. “Other countries lay tax fraud charges against individuals for having undeclared bank accounts in tax havens, but not Canada.”

Also annoying is the use of the word “assessed”. “It is merely what the government claims it is owed. The account holders are free to appeal, and until their appeals are exhausted, they don’t have to pay a dime,” he said. “Canadians who use domestic banks pay taxes. Why should these people get a tax holiday?”

Most disturbing is the invocation of the Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP), a partial amnesty for cheaters. The use of the VDP is contrary to what then Revenue minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn pledged in the House in late 2009. He stated uncategorically that no one among the Canadian holders of Liechtenstein accounts had, or was eligible to come forward under the VDP. He also estimated that the CRA would collect $20 million in taxes, penalties and interest.

Senator Downe intends to pursue this scandal to find out exact details, why the CRA relaxed rules on VDPs and why it has taken so long. “Who is being protected?” he asks.

He is to be congratulated for his efforts. Canadians pay high tax rates and provide a high level of services. People who lie and cheat should be hunted down and punished as severely as other developed nations do. This is no way to run a country and smacks of corruption. Or of outright incompetence: “If the 1,785 Canadian-owned Swiss accounts that have recently been disclosed are reviewed as quickly as the 106 from Liechtenstein, it will take just over 274 years to go through them all based on 26 completed cases in four years.”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Great Improvements...

This is too funny, Richard digging out a wetland probably with no permit... the only thing missing in the pictures are the Province's gun totting conservation officers looking to have him charged!!! All things aside it is great to see improvements to this important watershed.

Watershed improvements restore trout population at Wright’s Creek
The Guardian
Published on October 6th, 2010
Watershed improvements to clear siltation from Wright’s Creek have restored a healthy population of young trout to the watercourse, says P.E.I. Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister Richard Brown.
He praised community watershed groups for playing a vital role protecting and preserving water quality and wildlife habitat on Prince Edward Island.
The minister than praised government for funding local watershed groups, like Wright’s Creek and Andrew’s Pond, to give them the tools and resources they need to enhance and restore the natural resources within their watersheds.
The Wright’s Creek Watershed Environmental Committee is completing its most ambitious year of watershed improvements. Much of the work carried out has been to address the problem of siltation.
Over the past few years, the watershed has been excavated to clean out springs and build silt traps. To date, five springs have been deepened and lined with Island stone and four silt traps have be en constructed.
John Andrew, a member of the Wright’s Creek Watershed Environmental Committee, said the committee is also participating in the City of Charlottetown’s engineering study examining the causes of siltation in Wright’s Creek and Andrew’s Pond. Stantec Consultants will hold a public meeting on the issue Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Malcolm Darrach Community Centre in East Royalty.
“We hope that this initiative will lead to further improvements and restoration of the watershed,” said Andrew.
Area residents are also enjoying the benefits of a new walking trail built along the north side of Andrew’s Pond.
The restoration of Wright’s Creek was funded by the province through the Watershed Management Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Fund.