Claim to fame

Nadine Armstrong/Hants
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Bay of Fundy to join top Seven Wonders of Nature?

Claim to fame

The Bay of Fundy, home to the world’s highest tide tides and stunning coastlines, has long been known as a natural phenomenon, and is now gaining international recognition as one of five Canadian sites to participate in the international New7Wonders of Nature contest.

The Bay of Fundy Tourism Partnership (BFTP), a non-profit organization, now aims to promote this natural wonder and have lunched a campaign, “Votemyfundy.com” with the objective to help educate the public about the nomination and bring worldwide attention to the Bay of Fundy region. “We’ve issued a challenge to individuals, schools and businesses throughout the Maritimers to ‘Vote Fundy,’” says BFTP manager Terri McCulloch.

The New7Wonders Foundation was established in 2001 by the Swiss-born Canadian filmmaker, author and adventurer Bernard Weber, who seeks to protect of the world’s human built and natural heritage and foster respect for the cultural diversity of the planet.

The first phase of the competition ends Dec. 31 when the top 77 sites from more than 240 countries will be chosen to participate internationally for the top Seven in the world in 2009.

Recently recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the Bay of Fundy was an easy sell, said McCulloch, “When we applied to participate we had to pass through quite a few criteria but we had no trouble making a case.” In fact, she said, the Bay of Fundy was the only site in the Maritimes selected for the contest.

Offers a broad field

Regions along the Bay of Fundy, which stretches from the tip of Brier Island to St. Stephens, New Brunswick, are also home to the world’s most complete fossil record of the Coal Age and to the world’s oldest reptiles and Canada’s oldest dinosaurs. “It is the site of one of the greatest extinction events the world has even know,” McCulloch said. “We’re playing a broad field here, the Bay of Fundy has more than one claim to fame.”

Although up against other international sites such as the Amazon Rain Forest, McCulloch said winning the first round of the competition, Dec. 31, will solidify the Bay’s standing as a Canadian competitor. Right now, she said Fundy is neck and neck with Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park. “We have a very good standing, I’m positive we can represent Canada in 2009.”

On the local front, both West Hants High Schools -- Avon View and King’s-Edgehill -- are gearing up to vote. Craig Smith teaches Tourism 12 at Avon View and says students there will set up an official voting station this week. He notes the contest is a great learning mechanism for students. “It has given us the opportunity to talk about Eco tourism in a tangible way.” As well, in terms of tourism, Smith said, students will learn how the Bay of Fundy impacts tourism in this region and all the applications and sectors of the community that involves. “It does carry a certain level of community pride,” he added, and an opportunity for social action amongst peers.

Tourism impact

The Hants Regional Development Authority is a funding partner with (BFTP) and director Ryan MacNeil said participating in the contest would have a direct impact on tourism in this region. “The Bay of Fundy is going to be the new tourism generator for Nova Scotia.” He noted that the level exposure from this contest would put the Bay of Fundy on the international stage.

The Bay of Fundy is just as amazing as the Niagara Falls, he said. “It’s a natural wonder that we really do over look here, but there is no where like it in the world.”

MacNeil said this recognition would help boost developments such as Burntcoat Head and the Cheverie Salt Marsh visitor centre. “It’s pretty exciting to have the highest tides in the world right here in West Hants. We have a really great eco-zone and this contest reminds us locally how awesome our region really is.”

McCulloch agrees the exposure can’t hurt the tourism industry in the Maritimes and Hants County. She said the return value added press from such a competition is worth millions. “It’s a pretty good return on our investment.” As, well a win could bring in numerous funding opportunities from corporate sponsors and other community partnerships. “Our goal is to have the Bay of Fundy recognized as one of the top tourism sites in Canada and the world, and I believe we can do that together.”

For more information and to cast your vote by Dec., 31 go to MYFUNDY.com.

Organizations: New7Wonders Foundation, UNESCO, West Hants High Schools Hants Regional Development Authority

Geographic location: Bay of Fundy, Canada, Brier Island New Brunswick Alberta Dinosaur Provincial Park Hants County Nova Scotia Niagara Falls

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