The provincial Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture announced that it is increasing its funding for resort municipalities. (File photo)
By Vanessa Broadbent
Osoyoos is one of 14 resort municipalities in the province getting more funding for tourism this year.
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture announced on Wednesday that it’s increasing its Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding to $13 million in 2019-20. In previous years the funding averaged at $10.5 million.
The funding has also been added to the ministry’s core budget, and the ministry says that all RMI municipalities are now on “equal footing” and will each get a minimum of $100,000 annually.
It’s also implementing “performance-based” increases to funding, depending on tourism activity.
Having the RMI funding as part of the ministry’s annual budget will enable communities to plan long-term, Osoyoos mayor Sue McKortoff said.
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“As an elected official involved in meetings focused on the future of RMI funds, I am thankful that the provincial government listened to the concerns of RMI community leaders and incorporated many of our requests into the new program format,” she said.
“Providing additional funds to smaller RMI communities provides a huge hand up to communities with smaller amounts of resources to develop their tourism amenities.”
Previously, Osoyoos received about $340,000 every year, which has been used for improvements to Gyro Park, the Canal Trail, the marina upgrades and new public washrooms at Goodman Park.
This year, the funds are going towards a trail on Highway 3 connecting Cottonwood Drive to Lakeshore Drive, repairs to flooding damage at Cottonwood Beach, installing decorative bollards on Main Street and new washrooms at West Bench Park.
The Town of Osoyoos surveyed residents in February on its Resort Development Strategy. The recent community engagement provided the town with solid direction on where to use additional funding, McKortoff said.
“The message was clear that we must continue to develop our multi-use trail network, continue with water front development and provide funds to local volunteer groups that stage events that bring visitors to town.”