Sarnia, as seen in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, might just make a new hotspot list.
A Toronto friend told me today he didn't know I was from Sarnia.
"I've been there a couple time for toxic tours," he noted.
The opportunities suddenly became so clear. I had no idea Sarnia was such an eco-tourism destination!
Think about it: a couple people come from another part of the province to check out our heavy metals and endochrine disruptors. Maybe they make a weekend out of it. They go to dinner for some decent chinese-canadian fair. The restau owner hires another server, who takes a trip to Lambton Mall to buy some new earrings and so on - think of the multiplier effects! The Chamber would be ever so pleased.
Even better, if they choose to drive to Sarnia they'll be using gasoline, playing their part to increase demand, bring up oil prices and help local business.
Now some think that the best way forward for Sarnia-Lambton is to create a new vision for green jobs, one that transforms our dependence on fossil fuel processing plastics, rubbers and gasoline into something different - an economy based in sustainable (non-ethanol) energy, arts, local agriculture, product re-use, industrial ecology and green manufacturing. They think that Sarnia's many mentions in global media have been giving us a bad name, and the least we could do is reduce pollution levels, if not our branding.
Let me be the first to admit that I shared that view. I was, simply, incorrect. Our future does lie in tourism, perhaps not as I had predicted.
Folks are clearly coming from far and wide to learn from us. There's something to be said about playing to your strengths.