Resorts head to Whistler to talk shop
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 organized at the request of Premier Gordon Campbell in 2002 and Whistler was instrumental in gathering the resorts together. The collaborative worked hard to negotiate “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.