It's not too often a small town like Devon gets to stand on the national stage, but that is exactly what will happen on August 21st as TSN Sports Centre broadcasts live from Devon, Alberta!
The dynamic youth of Devon dared to dream about a Mountain Bike Skills Park, they presented their plan to Council, and then they entered the TSN Kraft Celebration Tour contest to win $25,000 to help pay for a Mountain Bike Skills Park. Devon saw the potential and came together as a community, people of all ages rallied to support this initiative and oh my, what a victory for Devon!
But this isn't just a win for our youth, it benefits the entire community and our region. As people from around the region become more familiar with everything Devon has to offer, it can only ramp up our visibility and create more business opportunities and income for our municipality and our region. One of our great assets is the Leduc #1 Energy Discovery Centre, and they'll be featured during the national broadcast. Other vendors will gain tremendous exposure as will our groups and clubs. Everybody wins, nobody loses, it's quite the value proposition.
Some people might be interested to understand the economics or logic path taken in the decision to support Bike Town as an initiative... please feel free to consult previous posts, one in particular has the data set links from the Federal Government of Canada, the Provincial Government of Alberta, and the Town of Devon. You can find the information you need by clicking on the links provided here.
There is one very important concept to keep in mind... branding isn't about creating an image for ourselves. Instead, it's about creating an image for people who will consume our product, in this case, Devon. I know at least one person is interested in dusting off "Model Town" as a brand, or possibly even "The Town that Oil Built", but the reason Bike Town jumped the queue is that we believed there would be more economic benefit, based on quantitative and qualitative research, than there would be with the other brands. These other brands have been in our inventory for about half a century or more, and yes, we still have them.
When I hear people talking about how they want to be identified with oil or with the history of the oil patch, my response is that they are entirely entitled to do so. There is nothing wrong with that and, in fact, it is a fitting tribute to the history of Devon. That history remains ours... it will always be ours. Given my own history as a roughneck, geotechnical analyst, land man, research scientist, and volunteer at Leduc #1 that included a tour with the world famous Leduc #1 drilling demonstration team... you might consider that you're preaching to the choir when you try to convince me of the importance of the oil patch. But I digress...
With over $400,000 in regional economic benefit from one biking event last year, and the benefit of advertising now being raised well over a million dollars from the TSN broadcast, it's easy to see why Devon has made a logical and wise choice in creating the Bike Town brand. From an investment of a few thousand dollars in hard and soft costs, over a million dollars of benefit has been returned... and we're only a few months in.
As for the notion this was somehow done in an undemocratic manner, I'd like to point out that every Council meeting is, and always has been, open to the public. At every meeting we have standing agenda items for both scheduled and unscheduled delegations... you don't even need an appointment to be heard. Citizens can also participate in shaping these decisions through public boards like Economic Development and Tourism or Parks and Recreation, and there are more! You can get involved! Check it out here! The institutions of our democracy are here for a purpose and we are all devoted to maintaining them and strengthening them.
I believe democracy is alive and well in Devon. I'm also impressed that our youth have invigorated our municipality with an exciting initiative that has already brought tremendous value and is an amazing victory for Devon. On August 21st, when TSN does a live broadcast of Sports Centre from Devon - probably from Voyageur Park - we will invite everybody to come on out for an afternoon of fun for the entire family, a good old fashioned BBQ with all the fixings, entertainment, the Kool-Aid mascot, Jell-O tents, and the list goes on. And don't forget to check out the TSN broadcast team as they put Devon on national TV across Canada with spill over into major U.S. border markets.
Sometimes you have to be flexible and agile to accomplish great things. That the people of Devon were able to help our youth accomplish this dream is a testament to the Spirit of Devon and good faith judgment based on the best facts and data available. The underlying rationale and data sets for Bike Town, by the way, have been online for months on the Town of Devon website and there are links from this blog as well. You may find the presentation on the Town of Devon website to be rather enlightening as it explains, in detail, precisely why Bike Town was rolled out in the manner it was. You can access that presentation here.
As for the comment I've seen printed relating to the notion that somehow this Council and administration have dishonored Veterans who have fought wars for democracy... I've thought long and hard about those words. At first, I felt the words were a stinging salvo that deserved a full retaliatory response. In retrospect, I now believe it says much more if this Army Veteran says nothing at all.