Tourism Pemberton representatives were disappointed in their attempt to secure a long-term support agreement at the Village of Pemberton council meeting on Tuesday (March 21).
With budgetary matters front and centre for the council, the not-for-profit requested 2012 funding of $19,500 and an agreement to provide $18,000 per year to Tourism Pemberton for the following three years, up to 2015.
In the absence of Pemberton mayor Jordan Sturdy, the remaining councillors were reluctant to approve the plan that would take up almost the entire annual budget of $25,000 for the village's Economic Development category, which is also used to financially support events like the Slow Food Ride or the proposed paragliding nationals this summer. Councillor Ted Craddock said to fund Tourism Pemberton to this degree would leave $290 left in the Economic Development budget.
"People can come here with tremendous ideas that could be long-term also, but we'd have to say 'Sorry, but we have no funds,'" he said.
Craddock expressed concern that the paragliding and hang-gliding event, proposed at the previous council meeting as possibly leading to an annual international event bringing well-heeled participants to Pemberton for two weeks every summer, could be driven away through lack of support.
"I'm feeling that using over 90 per cent of our funding for one operation, I'm having a little struggle with that."
Tourism Pemberton was formed in 2005 as a Committee of the Pemberton & District Chamber of Commerce. Over the years it has evolved to function as a small, volunteer-led Destination Tourism Organization.
Craddock's motion to provide $10,000 of the requested amount, with a request to seek matching funds, as a financial bridge and table the remaining amount on Sturdy's return in April was passed unanimously.
In an interview following the decision, Donna Hasan, the co-chair of Tourism Pemberton, said they were optimistic of a decision about the outstanding request for funding support being taken in the next few months. One part-time member of staff was without a contract as of March 15, 2012.
Hasan declined to comment about whether Tuesday's vote restricted Tourism Pemberton's activities at the current time.
Some of Tourism Pemberton's successes include creating a geo-cache program in the Pemberton Valley and an enhanced trail signage plan to guide tourists. Their snowmobiling competition, the winner of which will be announced in the next few days, led to a following of over 2,000 on Facebook and reached over 71,000 Canadians as well as new fans in the U.S., Europe and Australia, said Hasan. Its success is being used to run a similar summer-based competition in 2012.
Public hearing on Lil'wat Properties
A public hearing was called on Tuesday evening to discuss the rezoning of Lil'wat Properties with respect to resource activities such as forestry, mining, aggregate, soils and other activities that are not suitable for urban areas, as required by the Local Government Act. This follows recent readings at previous council meetings.
Chaired by acting Mayor Alan LeBlanc, it followed prior zoning efforts that were postponed following the extension of the boundaries for Pemberton in May 2011.
The Village's manager of administrative services, Sheena Fraser, said prior to the meeting that the council could then send the proposal to MoT for further discussion.
"(Lil'wat Properties has been) working away on their plans for a year and a half without knowing when the boundaries would be moved and they have waited a long time to move forward," she said.