The penultimate meeting of the Columbia Valley Community Directed Funds Committee was held on May 22, amidst some concerns about the transition back to Columbia Basin Trust leadership.
For the last three years, community representatives from the Columbia Valley, including Invermere mayor Gerry Taft, were responsible for making decisions about how to allocate Columbia Basin Trust funds. In July, the Trust will takeover final decisions on the allocation of funds, but the committee will continue to meet to make advisory decisions.
“It was a hard decision to make because so many people have spent so much time establishing this committee,” said Trust director of delivery of benefits Wayne Lundeberg. “I think we should stop labouring you with work that is not worth your time.” Columbia Basin Trust will handle administration for the allocation of Trust funds, including staff support and space booking for meetings.
Clara Reinhardt, the mayor of Radium and a member of the committee, said she feels the committee’s work over the last three years has been a success. “The fact that we tried to run this ourselves is really good,” Reinhardt said. “What is coming next is pretty much what we asked for anyways.”
Marketing the valley
In January, the committee sponsored a tourism industry meeting about the development of a valley-wide approach to branding and marketing the region.
During the meeting on May 22, the committee debated whether a Community Tourism Plan should be created in conjunction with Destination B.C. The estimated price of retaining a consultant to create the plan and holding another tourism industry workshop is $15,000.
“Philosophically I struggle to some degree with why we are focused on tourism marketing,” Taft said. “Tourism marketing is only about increasing hotel occupancy rates.”
In opposition to Taft’s comments, Reinhardt supported the proposal to develop a tourism plan. “Tourism is about jobs,” Reinhardt said. “If you fill hotel beds the jobs will come.”
Committee member John Rouse said that tourism does more than just bring one-time tourists to town. He said that it brings residents and economic opportunities to the area. “If we market the valley correctly, we will attract a wide variety of people,” he said.
Committee chair Wendy Booth said that she first came to the valley as a tourist, but stayed once she fell in love with the area.
The committee voted to move forward with the creation of a plan, with the resolution to remove “tourism” from the plan’s title.