RMI communities to hire tourism consultant

With funding agreement renewal set for 2017, resort municipalities look to find appropriate funding formula

With the renewal of the Resort Municipality Initiative looming next year, the 14 resort communities in B.C., of which Kimberley is one, continue to wrestle with what form the renewal is going to take.

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick has been leading the charge on the RMI funding, trying to find a more equitable formula, where small communities like Kimberley and Rossland, for example, can get a bigger piece of the pie.

The amount the province pays out in RMI funding is fixed at $10.5 million but McCormick is arguing for a change in how it is allocated to resort municipalities and also some more flexibility on how it can be spent.

As it stands now, the funding — which for KImberley amounts to somewhere in the neighbourhood of $80,000 to $90,000 per year — must be used for tourism infrastructure. Kimberley has in the past used the funds to help build the putting course at Riverside Campground and more recently on trail infrastructure.

“If you look at communities like Whistler and Tofino, their infrastructure is mature, they are built out,” McCormick said. “It would be nice if they had some flexibility to spend the funds in a different way. Kimberley needs capital funds so communities’ needs differ. How do we meet these disparate needs?”

One of the things the resort communities have agreed to do is hire a tourism consultant, who will collect data.

“The consultant will look at how other countries raise their funds for tourism marketing and capital. We hope to get some good intel from the consultant,” McCormick said. “All 14 municipalities are paying for the consultant, with Whistler paying the lion’s share. They have been very supportive of this whole process, keeping the best interest of all the communities in mind.”