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Municipalities seek more funding options

Financial tools, resort development major issues at UBCM

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"At the UBCM we heard the mayor of Winnipeg asking for financial tools, and I’ve been saying the same things for 10 years."

Although the province dodged the issue of new revenue sharing at the UBCM, O’Reilly remains confident that new financial tools will become available as the province’s financial situation continues to approve, at least for resort communities.

"Everyone has been championing these causes, and we feel as a resort community we have a legitimate case, we’ve given them alternatives… what we thing might be viable options to assist communities, and how you determine what communities are appropriate for it, and we’re continuing those discussions," said the mayor.

"We’re in a bit of a different situation than other members of the UBCM, but it’s obviously not a bad thing that others are asking for the same things. The more of a rallying cry around these considerations, the stronger it makes our case to negotiate with the province."

Whistler Councillor Caroline Lamont sat through a presentation by Sandy Santori, the Minister of State for Resort Development, on the findings of the Resort Task Force and the best practices of resort development.

"The interesting thing about that speech was the level of interest," said Lamont.

"It was a medium sized room and it was just packed," she added, suggesting that a large number of B.C. communities are looking to become tourist destinations.

She also sat in with a meeting of the Resort Community Club, a group of resort communities in B.C. that was established to create common solutions for common resort community issues.

With existing resort communities struggling to address funding and development issues, Lamont says it’s interesting that the B.C. government is continuing to push the development of new resorts in B.C. without any new financial tools to service them.

"It’s great we’ve got all kinds of big plans for resort development and economic development, but we’re the ones who are really impacted the most on the front lines… and there’s no funding for us even to hire a consultant or staffing to deal with this growth," said Lamont. "Where Whistler is concerned, the Olympic bid was great, but we just don’t have the financial tools to accommodate and plan for this… which we were promised as part of the bid. It’s not that (the provincial government) is against any of it, they just haven’t given us financial tools to be a partner in the development, which is a huge frustration for us I think."

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