Dignitaries gathered in council chambers Thursday as the Town of Vermilion was the recipient of an Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) Sustainability Award.
With the convention being virtual this year, Michael O’Mara, AUMA Director of Client Development presented the award in person and congratulated the town on their efforts though the #VermilionOnline Festival.
“We’re very proud of our members like the Town of Vermilion for taking these initiatives. You don’t need to wait for provincial or federal governments to make a difference. We can be the leaders and everyone else will get on board. We want to set an example for the children to grow up and do that as well,” said O’Mara.
“I think it’s so important that the communities we all live in encourage sustainability.”
This year’s theme was, ‘Together We Can,’ and the Town worked with Seekers Media and local businesses to get their project off the ground, and are continuing to share what they learned with communities across the province.
Following the urgent shut down, 26 businesses created 29 videos from April 20 – May 20. Their #VermilionOnline Festival videos resulted in 322,162 social media reach with 27,651 engagements.
“Some of the participants were hesitant, but now it has become commonplace and it expands our market,” said Mayor Caroline McAuley.
“We have so many new entrepreneurs. Talking to them, their online sales have now surpassed their over the counter sales. It was a great way to showcase their products and make residents aware of what all they offer.”
Economic Development Committee Chair, Councillor Robert Pulyk said, “This was unique, and when people launched live they were amazed by the response. We exceeded all expectations, and it allowed our businesses to grow outside the community. It was definitely a worthwhile project.”
CAO, George Rogers, also took the opportunity to congratulate Economic Development Officer, Mary Lee Prior, and the committee for their work and thinking outside the box. Rogers said they were able to designate a way to work with the businesses despite most of them having closed doors and no foot traffic.
News of the project even reached across the country. Mary Lee Prior said while teaching a class for economic development, the University of Waterloo recognized Vermilion as one of the communities doing unique things across Canada.
“Hopefully businesses will not have to close their doors again, but if they do they have a survival mechanism,” said Prior.