Misstep at ministry means budget misunderstanding for Town

Mayor mistakenly told RMI funding ending

The just-tabled BC budget might be good for health, housing and childcare but it was a bit of a head-scratcher for the Town of Osoyoos — at least for a day.

The Town learned Tuesday provincial Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding — a staple for resort communities for more than a decade under the Liberal government — was not being renewed.

Mayor Sue McKortoff received the news in a phone call from Tourism, Arts and Culture minister Lisa Beare.

“Of course, we are disappointed,” said the mayor in a late-Tuesday email. “The RMI program is not continuing.”

Except, that’s not the case.

Contrary to what might be reported elsewhere, the Resort Municipality Initiative is being continued. Some background checking by OsoyoosToday helped uncover the disconnect.

After learning about the potential of RMI funding facing termination, we checked with the province’s Tourism ministry. We were referred to the Finance Ministry.

After a little discussion — with every indication RMI funding would remain intact — a call went to Mayor Sue McKortoff, who was able to sort out the misunderstanding.

The bottom line: folks in the Tourism ministry wanted RMI funding listed as a line item in the budget. That didn’t happen; rather, the program will continue as a contingency-funded item.

Somewhere in that discussion, the messaging became RMI funding was being dropped.

The ordeal was a bit of a big deal for the town.

The Town has about $400,000 in current projects it expects to complete with RMI funding accumulated from previous years.

Those projects include $150,000 for upgraded welcome signage, $80,000 for construction of a new larger washroom facility at Legion Beach Park, $42,000 for downtown revitalization and milfoil control, $30,000 for visitor activity enhancement — including Music in the Park — $20,000 for a pay parking ticket dispensing machine for the Town’s boat trailer parking lot and about $30,000 in ongoing service costs for beach cleaning and boat trailer-lot leasing.

The loss of RMI funding was to be included in discussions Thursday when Council sat down to talk about the 2018 operating and capital budget.

Now that meeting will be business as usual.

Resort Municipalities benefiting from the program include Whistler, Fernie, Revelstoke, Valemount, Tofino, Ucluelet, Golden, Rossland, Invermere, Harrison Hot Springs, Kimberley, Radium and Sun Peaks.

 

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