A year after fearing resort funding from the province might be a thing of the past, the Town of Osoyoos is breathing a little easier today.
The province announced Thursday that Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding will now be part of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture core budget — a change from previous years when it was a “contingency-funded” line item.
The change, the Ministry says, will allow the province’s 14 resort municipalities — including the Town of Osoyoos — to provide for improved long-term tourism planning.
“I’m thankful that the provincial government listened to the concerns of RMI community leaders and incorporated many of our requests into the new program format,” said Mayor Sue McKortoff.
“Providing additional funds to smaller RMI communities provides a huge hand up to communities with smaller amounts of resources to develop their tourism amenities.”
Now part of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture’s core budget, funding will be increased to $13 million in 2019-20 from an average of $10.5 million annually in previous years.
The Town has identified a number of RMI-related projects for 2019, including:
- Construction of a bike path between Cottonwood Dr. and Lakeshore Dr. ($391,480);
- Additional walkway and retaining wall at Gyro Park ($350,000);
- Park Facility development for the West Bench Park area — including installing a new pre-fabricated washroom facility ($100,949) and a running water supply line ($5,000) and some landscaping ($9,000); and,
- Bollards for Main St. sidewalks to redirect pedestrians to new crosswalks ($42,000).
“Our recent engagement with community stakeholders provided us with solid direction on future invests for our community,” said Mayor McKortoff. “The message was clear that we must continue to develop our multi-use trail network, continue with waterfront development and provide funds to local volunteer groups that stage events that bring visitors to town.”
Other changes to the RMI program include a new funding formula that puts all RMI communities on equal footing and provides a minimum funding amount of $100,000 per year.
Additionally, a new annual performance-based component recognizes increases in tourism activity in each community with increased funding.
The changes, the province says, resulted from consultation with the tourism sector and feedback on how important RMI is in maintaining B.C.’s reputation as a tourism destination in all seasons and supporting tourism growth in resort communities around the province.
The 13 other resort municipalities that receive RMI funding are: Fernie, Golden, Harrison Hot Springs, Invermere, Kimberley, Radium Hot Springs, Revelstoke, Rossland, Sun Peaks, Tofino, Ucluelet, Valemount and Whistler.
Since 2006, almost $130 million has been invested in tourism infrastructure, events and programs to support eligible resort municipalities’ tourism economies.
RMI’s three objectives are:
- to enhance tourism infrastructure and amenities;
- to deliver remarkable visitor experiences; and
- to implement projects and initiatives that improve tourism sustainability.