That RMI money, man - that's a hot issue. After the wildly popular Whistler Presents series, which was funded through RMI, people are questioning whether free concerts were the right move for Whistler and what else might be a good idea.
But Whistler Presents, at $2.9 million, was only one small part of the $7.5 million funding program for this year. Other projects include upgrading the Rainbow Theatre for the Whistler Film Festival, money to Tourism Whistler, ongoing construction on the Sea to Sky Trail, the street entertainment program and more.
How the Resort Municipality Initiative funding is spent has surfaced as one of the key election issues, with nearly all candidates weighing in. The $7.5 million in funding is equivalent to around 10 per cent of the resort's total budget and the only line item in the budget where there's any flexibility. The province can also repeal it at any time.
On the "2011 Whistler Election" Facebook page, candidate Steve Andrews recently asked for ideas how the RMI money could be spent. It was a clever campaigning strategy if nothing else, and many candidates for mayor and council participated. So, we thought it might be time to offer some big ideas on how the money could be spent. Everybody else is dreaming, so why can't we?
It must be noted that the money cannot be spent willy-nilly. There's a set criteria for projects and the RMOW must receive approval from the province. It should also be noted that this writer may have been influenced by a recent trip to Las Vegas for a conference hosted by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. Vegas, as per custom, was mind-boggling.
The goal of any resort is, or should be, to create memories and experiences for visitors and provide enough of these to lure people to Whistler in droves. The key to all of this is to make it FUN - capital letters very much intended.
There are several avenues for FUN, most of which we feel have been covered in this list. Both visitors and locals have a different concept of what they would like to see in Whistler, which we've tried to include here. Now, there are dozens of ideas so we had to narrow it down to a pithy eight. Let's start thinking about the future, rather than relying on the Olympics, which we can't really rely on anymore. Enjoy:
•A busker's festival: First off, we should stop the Street Animation program because it's a waste of RMI funds when there's a cheaper option: busking. The RMOW can set up a busking program similar to most major cities that allow busking, where entertainers audition for a license that, upon approval, they must display while performing. This comes at a lower cost for the municipality, as the performers are paid by the public.