North Sydney Visitor Information Centre – Summer 2014 Summary

The North Sydney Visitor Information Centre (VIC) operated for an eight-week period (June 30th 2014 to August 22nd 2014), with hours of operation of 10am to 6pm for the first three weeks and from 9am to 5pm for the remaining five weeks, with the first hour used to conduct a survey at the Marine Atlantic terminal most days.

It was staffed by Fern Donovan (author), university student, sponsored through the Canada Summer Jobs program.

The North Sydney VIC was located for a second summer in the North Sydney Heritage Museum at 309 Commercial Street rather than the original building at Rear Commercial Street. Thank you to the North Sydney Heritage Museum and its staff for the use of the space!

Numbers:
(The busiest weeks are in bold type)

Week #1 (June 30th to July 4th): Number of visitors= 19 (1/19 French=5%)

Week #2 (July 7th to July 11th):  Number of visitors= 60 (14/60 French=23%)

Week #3 (July 14th to July 18th): Number of visitors= 77 (20/77 French=26%)

Week #4 (July 21st to July 25th): Number of visitors= 107(12/107 French=11%)

Week #5 (July 28th to August 1st): Number of visitors= 76 (14/76 French=18%)

Week #6 (August 4th to August 8th): Number of visitors= 64 (6/64 French=9%)

Week #7 (August 11th to August 15th): Number of visitors= 52 (5/52 French=10%)

Week #8 (August 18th to August 22nd): Number of visitors= 58 (6/58 French=10%)

Observations:
1.    Some visitors had trouble finding the VIC, many because of a “Question Mark” sign directing them to the previous location on Rear Commercial Street.
2.    Many visitors requested information about other provinces, and with the exception of Newfoundland I was unable to provide them with maps, brochures, etc. from other provinces.
3.    There were usually less visitors on Monday mornings, probably because the library is closed on Mondays until 1:30.
4.    There were usually more visitors on Wednesdays when the North Sydney Heritage Museum held events (speakers, singers, etc.).
5.    Having a laptop with Internet access and a cell phone was very useful, especially for making reservations and finding exact directions. However, because the library Wi-Fi was the only Internet available, it was limited to 250mb of data each day, and several times the Wi-Fi went out completely.
6.    There were many visitors who came to visit the museum and found the VIC unintentionally.
7.    While the VIC was closed on Saturdays, the Museum hours were 12-4, and the museum staff was able to help many visitors on those days, as well as on weekday evenings when the museum was open until 8pm.

Recommendations:
1.    The removal or relocation of the question mark sign that leads to Rear Commercial Street would be necessary if the VIC is located in the museum again next year.
2.    If the museum operates during the same hours next year, it may be a good idea to have the VIC open on Saturdays.
3.    If possible, the VIC (and/or the museum) having its own Internet connection would solve any issues with using the library Wi-Fi.
4.    There are several signs (mostly advertising restaurants) posted at the gate to the Marine Atlantic terminal at the end of Commercial Street; a sign with directions to the VIC and information about its hours of operation posted at the gates would help Marine Atlantic passengers find the VIC.

Frequently Asked Questions:
(The most frequent questions are in bold type)
1.    How do I get to the Marine Atlantic ferry terminal?
2.    What can I do in North Sydney/Cape Breton?
3.    Where are the closest hotels/motels/bed and breakfasts?
4.    Where can I get free Internet access/Wi-Fi?
5.    How can I make a ferry reservation and how much does it cost?
6.    What restaurants are close/where can I get fresh seafood in North Sydney?
7.    What is at the Fortress of Louisbourg and how do I get there?
8.    What can I do on the Cabot Trail and how long is it?
9.    How do I get to Sydney?
10.  Where is the closest grocery store?
11.  What are some good places for hiking in Cape Breton/on the Cabot Trail?
12.  Where is highway 105?

Conclusion:
The North Sydney Visitor Information Centre is a worthwhile initiative. As the only VIC located within a 25-minute drive from the Marine Atlantic ferry terminal, the North Sydney VIC is a valuable resource for tourists arriving or departing on the Newfoundland ferry.

Go to: Past Projects and see what else BIDA has done for North Sydney, NS!