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B.C. Resort Strategy due this fall

Whistler lauded for its contribution to provincial economy



Minister for Resort Development Sandy Santori has confirmed that the recommendations made, in part, by several community leaders from the Sea to Sky corridor would form the basis of a new B.C. Resort Strategy.

The Resort Task Force was appointed in 2003 following Premier Gordon Campbell’s challenge to the tourism industry to double its size within 10 years.

Santori led the group, which also included Jim Godfrey from the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Squamish’s Economic Development Officer Lee Malleau and Squamish Nation Chief Gibby Jacob. Former Whistler administrator Geoff Pearce was also a member of the task force.

The recommendations in the task force’s 74-page report highlighted a number of strengths and weaknesses within B.C.’s tourism industry but some of the more significant points included:

• More resources for transportation needs.

• A more streamlined resort approval process.

• An improvement in communication between developers, First Nations and local government.

Despite the scope of the recommendations there was some fear the report might be shelved, but Santori said this week they would be used in a new B.C Resort Strategy, which is due for completion this fall.

"I can say with a fair amount of comfort that we will be able to implement the vast majority of them (recommendations)," he said.

"Some of them will take longer than others but I hope to have the resort strategy ready in the fall."

He said the task force identified "significant potential for resort development throughout the province.

"But I think if I was to pick one single recommendation out of the report as something that is very important it would be the elimination of duplication within the silos of government.

"Together with that is to try to create a more concurrent process as opposed to a linear one, which is what we have now.

"A linear process draws out the approval process, or the denial process for that matter, to a point where it’s not conducive for economic development or attractive to investors.

"I think what’s happened in the past is that investors get drawn into a process and into a system, they spend a lot of time and a lot of money," he said. "Then they get to a point where they almost can’t afford to get out and still have no certainty on whether they’ll get approval or not."

The report detailed the goal of any changes to the laws governing resort development should be to bring all the relevant parties to the negotiating table earlier to create a degree of certainty for developers and government.

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