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Smiths Falls hoping for brighter days ahead as tourism remains in limbo

The mayor is confident his town will overcome the recent loss of about two dozen local jobs, as it waits for word on what COVID-19 restrictions will mean for this year's tourism season.
2021-05-04 Smiths Falls Town Hall MV2
Smiths Falls Town Hall, 2021. Mike Vlasveld/ CityNews

Smiths Falls has had a rough couple of weeks and faces a great deal of uncertainty around what COVID-19 will do to this year's tourism season, but its mayor is confident the town can overcome adversity like it has many times before.

The announcement of the upcoming closure of the Ontario Provincial Police communication centre, and the loss of about two dozen local jobs, are unwelcome news for the town's leaders.

"It's an unfortunate situation but, from a community-wide perspective, we've been through greater challenges in the past and we've risen through those," said Mayor Shawn Pankow. "And we will do so again."

The town's tourism sector is hoping for much better news, and soon, as it watches and waits for word from health officials and the provincial government on what this summer will look like. 

Many businesses are planning for multiple potential scenarios this summer, Pankow said.

"It's a little challenging and frustrating right now, not knowing when things will open up, and we anticipate mid-month being somewhat different, and by mid-July, a lot different," Pankow told CityNews Ottawa. "But of course, that's all dependent on the rollout of vaccines, and people getting vaccinated."

Some event planning is underway, he added, like for the outdoor Movies Under the Stars, in hopes it will be allowed to go ahead.

Jason White

About the Author: Jason White

Jason is an award-winning reporter at CityNews Ottawa. He brings about two decades of experience in news, with stops in Halifax and Toronto.
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