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Whistler to get $7.5M in RMI this year

Province boosts total program funding to $13 million


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Some recent changes to the provincial Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) program mean good news for Whistler—namely, more money to direct towards tourism offerings.

The RMOW will get $7.5 million in RMI funding in 2019—a big boost from the approximately $6.5 million the resort received last year.

"It's pretty exciting," said Mayor Jack Crompton.

"Wonderful news. Thank you Province of British Columbia."

RMI money accounts for $13,150,000 in proposed RMOW project funding over the next five years, with $5,986,780 in 2019 alone.

Some big RMI projects on the books for this year include $3,052,000 for three public washrooms in the village, $350,000 for the Alpine Trail Program and $310,000 for recreational trailheads.

It remains to be seen how the extra $1 million will impact tourism offerings on the ground in the short term, but in general, the RMI funding is "critical to the success of our tourism economy," Crompton said.

"As a community of under 12,000 that supports a visitor population of 3 million annual visitors, this funding has played a critical role in Whistler's success," he said.

In other good news, the province announced a big boost to the RMI program as a whole, increasing the total budget to $13 million (from an average of $10.5 million annually in recent years).

The announcement comes on the heels of the provincial government making RMI a part of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture's core budget earlier this year.

The program—intended to assist small, tourism-based municipalities to support and increase visitation—has doled out more than $129 million in funding to 14 communities since 2006.

Other changes to the program include a new funding formula that provides a minimum of $100,000 to each of the RMI communities every year, as well as a new, annual, "performance-based" component based on tourism activity.

"What we're most enthusiastic about is the idea that there is performance benefits," Crompton said.

"When we see increased visitation, we have more funds to manage the impact and opportunity."

In 2016, the 14 resort communities that received RMI funding released a report, which found that tourism spending grew by more than 38 per cent from 2011 to 2015 while the rest of the province grew 20 per cent.

The accommodation revenues collected in those communities grew 42 per cent (the rest of the province grew 29 per cent).

The 14 RMI communities welcome 5.34 million visitors every year—105 visitors for every local resident.