The provincial government handed out some big cheques to resort communities this week, but not a penny went to Parksville or Qualicum Beach.
Whistler is getting more than $6 million, Tofino, about $650,000, as part of the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI). Since 2007, this program has pumped more than $61 million into communities like Uclulet, Radium and Revelstoke. This week, $10 million was doled out to 14 communities.
“I think of us as a resort community, a retirement-resort community, but we didn’t even come close to qualifying (for the RMI),” Parksville Mayor Chris Burger said this week. “Maybe that’s the problem — we’re not focussed on one element.”
Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association executive director Blaine Sepos said he believes RMI qualification is based on a formula that uses a hotel-rooms-to-full-time-residents ratio.
Our region has approximately 1,400 hotel rooms and a population of more than 30,000. While those kind of numbers might disqualify Parksville-Qualicum Beach for this program, Sepos said he believes the RMI “should be a sliding scale.”
“Tourism is the most important industry in Parksville Qualicum Beach and there’s a lot of pressure on the local infrastructure when visitors are here,” said Sepos.
Money from a program like the RMI, Sepos mused, could be used to construct the boardwalk link between Parksville Community Park and Rathrevor Beach.
“That’s a natural (for RMI funding),” said Sepos. “Not only for residents but for visitors too.”
According to a news release from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training: “Communities will use this funding to enhance services and infrastructure crucial to growing the tourism sector that drives their local economies, including trail and boardwalk improvements, venue development and tourist information services. Without
this funding, resort communities would not have the means to provide key
community assets to advance their primary industry — tourism.”
Ministry officials did not return a call from The NEWS this week.
According to statistics provided by the provincial government, in 2010, the tourism sector employed 127,000 British Columbians, generated more than $13.4 billion in revenue for tourism-related businesses and contributed more than $1.2 billion to provincial government revenues. Total tourism wages and salaries were $4.4 billion in 2010, an increase
of 37 per cent since 2000.