Moose Wars Costs Borne Out By Increased Tourism
Editor’s Note - The following is a fourth in a series of stories looking into the expenses or more specifically the credit card purchases by Mayor Fraser Tolmie.
MJ Independent is taking no sides in this but the series was written to help hold our elected officials accountable, create a respectable public discusson as well as highlight concerns raised about the growing number of City of Moose Jaw credit cards.
Keeping with MJ Independent’s policy of publishing the good, the bad and the ugly in this article we are publishing the Mayor’s credit card expenses during a visit from a Norwegian deputy mayor. More than a couple of our readers have said not one dime of City funds should go to this project in any way, shape or form. Whereas tourism numbers, at least at Tourism Moose Jaw, are up.
We leave it up to the reader to decide whether it is a good or a bad thing.
By Robert Thomas
If you think the City of Moose Jaw did not spend any money in the Moose Wars you are going to think again. If you think they are not spending any money in the actual upgrade of bigger antlers for Mac The Moose then you will be correct.
The Moose Wars was a tongue in cheek “verbal war” between Moose Jaw and a small Norwegian municipality - Stor-Elvdal - over which community had the world’s largest moose. Linda Otnes Henriksen, the deputy mayor of Stor-Elvdal, Norway ended up visiting Moose Jaw and a Moose Summit took place with a Mooserandum Of Understanding signed.
In the end Moose Jaw decided to give Mac the Moose larger antlers in order for Mac to once again be declared the largest moose on the planet.
In his credit card purchases Mayor Fraser Tolmie shows the City did purchase meals related to the Mac the Moose project as well as the visit from Henriksen’s visit.
In a written response to MJ Independent Mayor Tolmie said the cost to the City was small in relation to the international attention as well as the increase in tourism numbers.
“The City was a courteous and civil host to the Deputy Mayor from Norway by buying a $66 meal at a local restaurant, during which one Moosehead beer per person was consumed. While this may be seen as a cost to the city in the Moose Wars, the City has benefited tremendously. As you will soon be hearing, Moose Jaw’s tourism numbers are up - significantly. And our reputation and positive profile has grown internationally. This is what I mean by being a proud and professional Ambassador of our City,” Mayor Tolmie wrote.
It also needs to be noted there was also a breakfast expense for when the majority of Council - except Councillor Brian Swanson - met Henriksen.
According to Jacqui L’Hereux, executive director of Tourism Moose Jaw, tourism numbers are up over the past few months which she directly attributes to the publicity surrounding Mac the Moose.
L’Hereux said the tourism numbers are up at least 30 percent month to month from 2018 to 2019 at the Tourism Moose Jaw office.
“In the eight years of data I have looked at this June is the best we have had and there are still three days left until the end of the month,” she said.
Speaking anectdotally L’Hereux said she had spoken to a number of Downtown businesses and only one was not in agreement with the Moose Wars.
She also pointed out that as a Norwegian municipal politician Henricksen “is not allowed to accept gifts and easily purchased more in gifts than the meals and other things comped to her during her visit.”
Although no City money is being used for the actual upgrading of Mac there also is no refund to the City for any money spent on the visit. The funds come from an budget set aside for the mayor to receive dignitaries to the City.
During the Henriksen visit L’Hereux said Touris Moose Jaw had expenses when she escorted the Norwegian mayor around the city. Those funds came from Tourism Moose Jaw’s advertising budget and not fro the funds raised to give Mac a larger set of antlers.
NEXT - Raw Data Dump
We release the entire file of the expenditures charged to the Mayor’s Visa card and allow the readers to look them over and decide.