At least one of the business owners in town is frosted over the recent insert in the CH. It was geared to people in the Maritimes and titled “Live like a Tourist” with the subtitle “Things to see and do off Highway 101” and featured a number of towns — Windsor, Hantsport, Grand Pre, Avonport, Wolfville, Port Williams and beyond to Annapolis Royal hoping, we presume, to get visitors from outside the Valley to visit. So what’s wrong with that? We saw the insert too and noticed the difference between our submission and others, so when a business owner complained to us, we knew why.
Wolfville’s was the only one which had a subtitle for the town ” A Fair Trade Town“. Wolfville gives 1/4 page to Randall House museum but doesn’t mention that it isn’t open yet, nor does it say when it will open!! While other towns generally featured public sites or community wide events in their copy in combination with paid ads from businesses, Wolfville had a full 1 and 1/4 pages centred on Fair Trade. This included a long discourse on a Weekend in Wolfville contest which involves submitting a photo using a Just us Product or answering a Just Us question. The prize involves the participation of Just Us Coffeehouse (in Wolfville but ALSO Grand Pre) and a few other selected businesses, including the Gaspereau Winery outside of Town and the Farm Market. In addition there is a 1/4 page COLOUR picture of Just Us Coffee which can only be considered an ad for the Just Us coffee shops. Meanwhile we presume the Clay Ground had to pay for its smaller ad in the corner of the same page.
Apart from what we and others see as unfairness in the focus, which seemed to favour some businesses over others, we had other questions about the text. Take for example this statement:
...the use of Fair Trade products in Wolfville is consistently growing…
Is it really? We would like to see some evidence of that. Anybody tracking this since 2006? Numbers please. Perhaps it could be put on the AIMS report card.
Among the goals:
-The availability of Fair Trade Certified products in shops and cafes. [If anything “availability” has been reduced. Does the Coffee Merchant offer it anymore? Acadia?]
-The support of local workplace, faith-based groups, schools and other local groups. [What faith-based groups? The churches?]
-A demonstrated interest by the media and general public. [Spontaneous or initiated by the Town?]
-The promotion of ethical and sustainable consumption. [What does this mean?]
We suspect these political goals do not have the wholehearted support of the general populace of Wolfville in terms of real action; what we see is tokenism. We think this attempt to impose a certain ideological colour to the town is a mistake. It projects only an image, a false one, which does not reflect reality. No wonder so many businesses come here expecting a certain response and are disappointed.
There was also a focus in the piece on “buying local” and “supporting our farmers.” Do you see the irony? If readers elsewhere in the province took this to heart they would stay at home and support their local businesses and farm outlets not “Live like a tourist” and visit ours!
Who was responsible for this “promotion” ? The Town Rec. Dept? The Mayor? The WBDC has to bear some responsibility. Did every B&B in town and every drinking establishment have the opportunity to participate in the “Fair Trade contest?” Or were only a few favoured ones approached? Is there any attempt to measure the effectiveness of this kind of promotion? Does ideological copy of this sort attract people to our town or does it turn them off?
So many questions. So few answers.