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Resort municipality funding may be in jeopardy

Rossland’s status as a “resort municipality” may be in jeopardy as the province demands paperwork from all resort municipalities to show increases in tourism with the provincial funding to achieve the goal of a doubling in tourism by 2015.

CAO Victor Kumar explained to council, “The money being spent must be tied to an increase in tourism.” The increase must be measurable, specifically through accommodators that collect the two per cent hotel room tax — which the province is also reconsidering in the light of tourism objectives.

In Rossland, eight accommodators collect the additional tax.

“If we are not able to supply that information, this program is coming to an end quickly,” Kumar said, although he noted that in the meantime Rossland will be shown more leniency because the amount of funding it receives is relatively small.

Finance manager Deb Timm, with help from Deanne Steven of Tourism Rossland, is preparing Rossland’s annual report to send to the province. Timm said the problem was that “the increase in tourism over the whole province of B.C. [in 2010] was approximately two per cent, and the resort municipalities were almost identical.

“It’s a new program, but it’s not showing results yet,” Timm said.

Coun. Jill Spearn was incredulous: “Are they aware of the economic downturn?” Spearn felt that doubling was so unrealistic that perhaps the province was just aiming to “phase out” the program.

Coun. Kathy Moore added, “In an economic downturn, sometimes just staying flat is a success.”

Coun. Hanne Smith asked, “Is there any useful way of lobbying government and giving them a reality check? An incremental increase is understandable, but doubling seems very unrealistic.”

Mayor Greg Granstrom said, “We don’t make the rules. The money better show results.”

Signage alone “is not going to cut it,” Kumar said, referring to how Rossland spent the funds made available since we joined the program in 2007.

Now, across B.C., resort municipalities are coming up with new five year plans to strategize for the 2015 deadline. Rossland had just such a meeting on May 18, facilitated by Steven, in which 25 people broke into focus groups and considered four options.

Every interested Rosslander is invited to participate in a second meeting on May 31 at 7:30 p.m. at the Miners’ Hall to come up with Rossland’s new strategy to increase tourism.

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