By Chad Ingram
An experiment using ahired company to help control tourist traffic during the busy fallfoliage season in Algonquin Highland has proven effective staff saywith the township’s director of parks rec and trails saying he’d liketo repeat the practice next year.
As previously reported this yearthe Township of Algonquin Highlands hired company People Ready to supply staff to help control the thousands of visitors who flock to the Dorset Tower to see the leaves on and around Thanksgiving weekend whencolours typically peak. The company also stationed four personnel in the hamlet of Oxtongue Lake which is located near the entrance toAlgonquin Park and for years has experienced problems with trespassingduring the peak of fall foliage.
The company was hired for theThanksgiving weekend as well as the weekends before and after. Thecosts for the tower were anticipated at $22000 the costs for thepatrolling of Oxtongue Lake at about $3600. In addition three paidduty OPP officers were requested to assist with traffic at the towerlocated along Highway 35.
“Overall this worked out fantastically”parks rec and trails manager Chris Card told Algonquin Highlandscouncillors during a Nov. 7 meeting.
“We were able to have morepeople on the property at the tower” Card said explaining having theadditional staffing made it possible to more efficiently move peoplethrough.
During the three weekends more than 2900 passenger carswent through the gates at the tower more than 1000 more than duringthe same time period last year. There were also more than 2200 peoplewho entered by foot walking up the hill to the lookout point. Withincreased traffic as well as an increase in admission fees this yearalong with kiosk sales the three weekends totalled more than $57000 in revenue. Revenues for the same period in 2018 were just less than$33000.
Card told council he would like to use the additional staffing again next year.
Overall for the year after costs the township’s interim treasurer said the tower was on pace to net about $50000.