The deadline for the provincial government’s tentatively renewed Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) program is fast approaching.
The program will create three years of tourism funding for B.C.’s 14 resort municipalities under a new formula that would see a massive increase for the resort towns and citites, including Harrison Hot Springs, which could see a jump from $267,000 a year to $452,000.
Village council is appointing a committee to draft a multi-year ‘resort development strategy’ – a required document for continued resort funding from the province – due back in January, 2019.
RMI money is designated for tourism infrastructure, things like the Plaza or statues. The money can also be used – albeit to a lesser extent – for tourism-related events. The increased funding amount wouldn’t be available until 2020, according to Village mayor Leo Facio.
Tourism Harrison, newly tasked with taking on events like Canada Day, Sasquatch Days and the Magic of Christmas, will receive approximately $65,000 of the increased RMI funds. The Harrison Festival of the Arts would see an increase in funding too – a raise from $12,500 to $15,000 a year.
The RMI funds will help Tourism Harrison advance a project it’s starting this year called ‘Lights on the Lake,’ an ambitious three-year plan to bring in dozens of enormous, lit-up Christmas decorations in an attempt to stimulate tourism during what is typically an off-season.
“[Winter] is probably the slowest time of the year,” said executive director Robert Reyerse. “We get a fair number of people out for Christmas but January and November, those are very slow months so we’re hoping to bring a lot more people out.”
Reyerse hopes the Christmas lights will help to do just that.
“We’re going to slowly build up a major display of Christmas scenes,” he explained. “This year we’re starting with the Sasquatch. We’re going to do a dozen major displays – and these are quite large, five to fifteen feet.”
“Our intention is eventually to have these displays go right around the Lagoon.”
With $10,000 of the RMI funds designated for administration costs (including travel to RMI meetings and performance metrics reporting), the Village is left with $377,000 per year to put towards the development of tourism infrastructure projects, which have to be described and costed in a strategy document for the province.