Kelowna not a 'resort municipality'
The provincial government is doling out $10M to 14 communities around BC who qualify under the 'Resort Municipality' banner.
Ironically, Osoyoos is the only Okanagan community with such a designation.
Osoyoos will receive $282,900 from the $10M pool while Whistler will garner more than half the pool at $6.35M.
Okanagan communities such as Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton, Summerland, Peachland and others do not qualify under the program.
Kelowna Mayor, Walter Gray says the province uses a bed to population ratio in the hospitality industry to determine which communities can qualify.
Comparing Whistler and Kelowna, Gray says Whistler has about 6,000 accommodation beds and a smaller population (10,531) compared with 4,000 beds and a much larger population in Kelowna.
"Clearly if you were a small municipality with a large number of beds you need some stimulus. It was to help those who had a high bed to population ratio," says Gray.
"What the province has determined is a place like Whistler is absolutely dependent on tourism whereas Kelowna isn't. That's the fundamental difference."
Gray says he has had a meeting with Tourism Minister, Pat Bell about the program and Kelowna's exclusion in it.
"I challenged him and said you cannot tell the world that Kelowna is not a resort municipality. We are. We're the most beautiful place in the province," Gray says he told Bell.
He says Bell admitted Kelowna is a resort municipality, it just doesn't qualify under this particular program.
"What we will have to do is to try and figure out a way in which the province can, in some other way at some future date, acknowledge Kelowna as having tourist potential as valuable to the economy of the province," added Gray.
"Trust us, we'll come up with some way that they'll have to say yes or no to. They won't be able to say no to us forever."
Other communities receiving funding include:
- Fernie - $439,042
- Golden - $529,534
- Harrison Hot Springs - $310,802
- Invermere - $186,410
- Kimberley - $87,876
- Radium Hot Springs - $115,532
- Revelstoke - $511,906
- Rossland - $24,168
- Sun Peaks - $298,921
- Tofino - $657,350
- Ucluelet - $174,796
- Valemount - $56,566
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