At the recent elected officials workshop, Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick had an opportunity to speak to the mayors of East and West Kootenay municipalities who are part of the Resort Municipality Initiative.
The subject was Resort Municipality funding, and what McCormick feels is an inequitable formula that determines how much each community receives.
“It’s not based on taxes collected anymore, it’s a grant,” McCormick said.
But the grant varies widely from community to community. Whistler received $7 million in 2014 and Rossland, $28,000. Kimberley received $85,000. The money is allocated for tourism infrastructure projects.
“Even accounting for the fact that Whistler is Whistler, that’s inequitable,” he said.
The amount is arrived at through a complicated formula based on “accommodation units”.
McCormick says the confusion starts there because Kimberley is listed to have 500 accommodation units when there are actually 1200 rooms. The formula uses accommodation units as a base number and funding is derived from a multiplier, which rises as you reach a certain threshold of units. It’s complicated and needs another look, McCormick says.
“I was just looking to see if there was an appetite among other resort communities to open the discussion with the province. The answer was yes, but all 14 communities, including Whistler, have to be on board.”
So the first step is convincing Whistler to agree. McCormick was elected to approach the Mayor of Whistler.
“I drew the short straw and will be contacting the Mayor of Whistler,” McCormick said. “We can all win with this, including Whistler.
“There are half of us getting $150,000 or less. If the formula is revamped, we will be able to get twice as much done. At the 50,000 foot view, I think even Whistler would agree the system in broken. We’re not asking the province for new money, just a little better distribution.”