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Bon Accord changes brand

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012 06:00 am

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Bon Accord put on a party last weekend with a marathon 30-hour cultural event held to coincide with the autumnal equinox. At the same time it made a major civic announcement that shed much light on the town’s rebranding strategy, a strategy that has utter darkness as its end goal.

The town of 1,500 has recently embarked on a campaign to boost tourist numbers, and it has set its sights on the stars to guide all the visitors in.

“The Summer Skies Equinox festival is actually an event that helped to promote our new focus, and our new brand … education, environment and culture,” explained Vicki Zinyk, Bon Accord’s chief administrative officer. “We tried to format an event that actually helped to promote that message.”

The festival started at 6 p.m. on Friday and featured five different cultural storytelling tours of the night sky. There was a pig roast and fireworks too, but the main act was centre stage above everyone’s heads in Alberta’s famous big skies.

Recently, the town approved a policy to establish it as a community that incorporates responsible lighting throughout its streets, facilities and parks. This policy essentially branded the town as a Light Efficient Community as guided by the International Dark Sky Association, among other engineering and energy use associations. This association is the same group that governs what areas can be called Dark Sky areas or not.

“Bon Accord has been in existence for over 100 years and we essentially went away from our brand or cultural roots which is Scottish in nature. We have existed ‘faceless’ but now we want to try and resurrect some sort of commitment and interest in our town, and help promote growth.”

That growth, she elaborated, is in new residents and in commerce, not in industry. The town wants to prove that its growth strategy is prudent, responsible, intelligent and inclusive for people of all cultures.

The town is currently in the process of applying to become a Dark Sky Community. So far, it has spent almost $600,000 to replace some old lighting with dark sky friendly lighting, and to undertake some cosmetic changes to signage as well. The new lights feature full cutoff, meaning they are shielded above and none of the lights project upward into the sky beyond.

“That’s what we want anyway. All of our existing lights will be retrofitted over a five-to-seven-year time frame. If we have more funds available sooner, then we will expedite that. New developments will all have the requirement to put in dark sky friendly lighting and use environmental initiatives whenever possible.”

Bon Accord is located 34 km northeast of St. Albert on Highway 28.


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