New provincial government continues Resort Municipality funding to Osoyoos

By on October 12, 2017

Hundreds of Osoyoos residents turned out last year to celebrate the upgrades to Gyro Park. The park upgrades were funded under the Resort Municipality Initiative. (Richard McGuire photo)

The new NDP government has committed to continuing Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding for 2018 and Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff is confident the funding will continue well into the future.

“It’s good to know it will continue for another year … we hope it will continue for much longer than that because we made it very clear how important this program is,” said McKortoff Thursday, only a couple of hours after the provincial government issued a news release extending the funding for another year.

The Province has committed to investing a total of $10.5 million for tourism infrastructure projects and programs in 14 resort communities, said Lisa Beare, the NDP’s Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture.

“People who live and work in resort municipalities will benefit from improved infrastructure, increased private investment and a more diversified economy as a result of this boost to the Resort Municipality Initiative,” said Beare. “We’re committed to creating jobs and building a strong economy that works for everyone. Strengthening our tourism sector by supporting the RMI is one way we are delivering on that commitment.”

The 14 resort municipalities that participate in the RMI program include City of Fernie, Town of Golden, Village of Harrison Hot Springs, District of Invermere, City of Kimberley, Village of Radium Hot Springs, City of Revelstoke, City of Rossland, Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality, District of Tofino, District of Ucluelet, Village of Valemont, Resort Municipality of Whistler and Town of Osoyoos.

“Whether it’s going skiing in Sun Peaks, storm watching in Tofino, a summer getaway in Osoyoos or a hiking adventure in Valemount, resort municipalities provide year-round experiences that are unique to our province,” said Beare. “The RMI enriches the lives of British Columbians who live in resort municipalities, contributes to better experiences for tourists and it boosts local economics.”

At the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Vancouver in late September, McKortoff said she and members of Town of Osoyoos council, as well as leaders from all 14 resort municipalities, had the opportunity to meet directly with Beare and stress just how important the RMI has been since it was introduced almost a decade ago.

During that meeting, community leaders asked for a five-year extension of the program.
“We all asked for something longer than just one year because one year often doesn’t give you enough time to get certain projects done,” she said. “They (province) ask for details and they want lists of the things we want to get done and ask us to fill out a lot of forms, so I’m kind of surprised they have extended the program for only one year, but perhaps they committed to the one year and want to take a look at things before they extend it.”

The leaders from all 14 resort municipalities did an outstanding job stressing to Beare and her ministry the significant contribution RMI funding has had in promoting and increasing tourism in smaller communities across the province, said McKortoff.

“The presentations were once again, like they always have been, very impressive and I can tell you that Minister Beare was very impressed,” she said. “Here in Osoyoos, we showed her pictures of the projects we’ve completed with this funding, including our new marina and improvements to Gyro Park and let her see close up what’s happened and what’s going to happen with this funding remaining in place.”

There isn’t any reason to believe the NDP government will discontinue RMI funding moving forward, said McKortoff.

“There isn’t any reason that I can think of to not continue this program,” she said. “The positive impact this annual funding has made in these resort communities and here in Osoyoos is very clear.

“As I said earlier, I’m surprised the funding announced today was only for one year, but I’m very confident that this program will remain in place as we move forward.”

The Town of Osoyoos have averaged receiving close to $400,000 in RMI funding over the past five years and this money has been used to build or improve major infrastructure projects that showcase our community and attract tourists, including upgrades to Gyro Park, completion of the town marina, upgrading of public washrooms, improvement to walking and hiking trails and much more.

Town council had sent a letter to the former Liberal government asking them to confirm that RMI funding would continue as they hadn’t made a firm commitment to extend the program beyond 2017.

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

 

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