By Alison Taylor
Resorts around the province will be gathering in Whistler this
month to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing resort towns.
“We don’t want this to be a Whistler centred conference,” said
Mike Vance, the municipality’s general manager of policy and program
development. “We want it to be a dialogue and for all the communities to really
have an opportunity to talk about their issues, their concerns, and what we can
learn from each other.”
The Resort Collaborative, which includes more than a dozen B.C.
resorts, from Whistler and Tofino to Golden and Harrison Hot Springs, has been
working together for a few years. It was instrumental in negotiating “financial
tools” for certain resorts. Those tools give resorts a bigger percentage of the
provincial hotel tax.
Whistler was the first to sign a deal with the province last
month that will see it get roughly $35 million in additional funds over the
next five years.
The money is to be used to improve the resort community. Vance
said the collaborative will discuss ways to define how the resorts are
improving and ways to measure that improvement.
He said: “The core question is: what is improvement, what is
success and sustainability?”
In addition to a work session on resort economies, there will
also be a session on resort communities, which will tackle issues such as
affordability and affordable housing.
The Resort Collaborative has come together in part to address
the provincial goal of doubling tourism by 2015.
“This is also an opportunity to strengthen the network and the
lines of communication amongst the resort communities,” said Vance.
Joining the Resort Collaborative members at the meeting are
representatives from Nelson, Smithers, Vernon, Banff and Canmore.
Whistler is expecting to host 60 to 75 delegates from May 23 to 25.