TRURO, N.S. — A new welcome centre has opened in downtown Truro for the first time since COVID – and at a different location than usual.
The Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Downtown Truro, Explore Central and the Town of Truro, opened its 802 Prince Street location on July 2.
“We’re very proud to be able to do this for the community and support our businesses in this way and it just is another example of how, when there’s a need in the community, that our chamber and the business community really come together to work with our partners to make good things happen,” said executive director Sherry Martell.
The town’s welcome centre building at 493 Prince St. has been closed since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and staffing. When looking at reopening, the town realized that the seasonal building has deferred maintenance issues that need to be addressed. The public washrooms, located in the basement, are also not accessible. There is no elevator or lift.
“There’s sort of a multitude of things as to why the building itself this year really wasn’t well suited for welcome centre purposes,” said Town of Truro economic development manager Alison Grant. “The town is currently exploring what options they have for that building.”
As soon as the chamber learned that the Victoria Square location would not be opening this season, they reached out to the town to see about providing an alternative solution.
“They absolutely reached out to us and wanted it to be like a collaborative approach,” said Grant. “(They) felt like not having a visitor’s information centre in the downtown was a bit of a gap … so while our building wasn’t suitable for it, we’re certainly happy to be a part of the one that’s happening on Prince Street.”
With the support of chamber members, they set up in a vacant location owned by a member and had some items donated by Canadian Tire. They got the place ready and furnished with supplies from municipal partners. Staff from a variety of partners will be greeting visitors.
“Whenever there’s a need and we reach out to our members, they help in any way they can,” said Martell. “The chamber is about supporting the business community and the community as a whole, and obviously creating a thriving place for people to want to live.”
Signage has been redirecting visitors to the Fundy Discovery Site in Lower Truro and once hours are finalized will also direct visitors to the welcome centre on Prince Street.
“We have staff available that can give them copies of tourism books, talk to them about local attractions, share their knowledge of the area, provide some maps if needed and make them feel really welcome coming to town,” said Martell. “When people come into the downtown core, we want them to stay and support our local businesses.”
The hope is to see more visitors as people become more aware of the space.
“We really need the community and business to support us in undertaking this this year,” said Martell. “So if anyone comes into their stores looking for tourism information in the downtown, please send them to the visitor’s centre on Prince Street.”
The Explore Central brand, founded in 2020 by the Chamber in partnership with local municipalities and the Downtown Truro Partnership, recently its first printed regional tourism guide last month with colourful maps and contributed information. The printed booklet is available at the centre and there is also an interactive website at www.explorecentralns.ca.
She said that more than 3,500 jobs in the region are directly tied to the tourism industry and thousands more from spinoffs. For the past six years, the chamber has been a partner and funder in ensuring that the Town of Truro welcome centre offers a high-quality standard for visitors seeking information in the province.