The provincial government will consider including the Parksville Qualicum Beach region in a program that doles out millions of dollars annually to tourism-reliant communities for infrastructure programs.
Currently, the region is not part of the B.C. Resort Municipality Initiative, a fund that was split between 14 communities last year. When she campaigned in Parksville in April, Premier Christy Clark was asked if that might change.
“I would be happy to sit down and talk to them about that,” the premier told The NEWS. “This community has all the characteristics of any great resort around the world.”
Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell was asked recently about any developments.
“I am happy to take this issue forward to government on behalf of municipalities,” said Stilwell.
“Minister (of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, Shirley) Bond has offered to have one of her senior officials to sit down and review the criteria with both myself and our community if they are interested. The criteria to meet the threshold are very rigorous, but I will continue to pursue the issue.”
Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association executive director Blain Sepos said money from this fund would provide the area with a boost.
“As tourism is our region’s top export, our local governments don’t have an industrial tax base as many other Island/B.C. communities,” said Sepos. “The Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) could make funds available to improve visitor-focussed infrastructure such as parks and beaches, streetscapes, and sport facilities. RMI may also allow for investment toward culture, festivals, skills development, and research. Investments such as these improve the visitor experience and encourage more people to visit. They also make the community a better place to live.”
According to a B.C. government website, since 2007, the RMI has invested $61.7 million “to support the unique challenges and opportunities faced by smaller resort-oriented municipalities.” The 14 municipalities that participate in the RMI program are Fernie, Golden, Harrison Hot Springs, Invermere, Kimberley, Osoyoos, Radium Hot Springs, Revelstoke, Rossland, Sun Peaks, Tofino, Ucluelet, Valemount and Whistler.
In December of last year, the province announced $10 million in funding through the RMI to those communities.