The Rossland ski bus is among the projects being supported by the core funding from the province. File photo

The Rossland ski bus is among the projects being supported by the core funding from the province. File photo

Core funding to boost spending on tourism services for Rossland

Resort Municipalities grants will pay for a public washroom, better signage, and shuttle services

A bike washing station and a new public washroom downtown are in the works for the City of Rossland, taking advantage of new provincial funding to improve its tourism facilities.

The city will spend more than $300,000 over the next three years on services to bring more tourists to Rossland, and to provide better service to the tourists who are already here.

“It’s a great thing,” says Rossland’s chief administrative officer, Bryan Teasdale. “From a city perspective and a council perspective, it’s very exciting.”

The money is coming from the Resort Municipality Initiative [RMI], a program designed to help tourism-dependent municipalities improve their infrastructure. Fourteen communities, including Golden, Fernie, and Revelstoke participate in the program.

The RMI has been around for more than a decade, and the city has received anywhere from $45,000 to $82,000 annually.

It’s been used to improve signage and install banners in the city, improve the Visitors’ Centre and create a shuttle program to the Spokane airport.

Response to the program was so positive, the resort municipalities successfully lobbied to get core funding for the program.

The province agreed, and for Rossland, that will mean more than $100,000 a year until 2021 to spend on special projects.

“We weren’t the only community struggling in terms of knowing when money was coming and how much. It makes it hard to plan an initiative,” says Teasdale. “So this way we can budget $100,000 and we know the money is guaranteed. We can develop projects better.”

To get the money, the city had to come up with a strategic plan for its spending.

That was done this spring, and now the province has approved the city’s plan, forwarding the city’s first grant for spending.

Priorities identified

The city’s identified six major projects to put the money towards:

1. Gateway improvements ($65,000 total – $50,000 RMI funding)

2. Bike wash station ($48,000 total – $20,000 RMI funding)

3. Downtown public washroom ($195,000 – $90,000 RMI funding)

4. Trail building ($220,000 – $85,000 RMI funding)

5. Rossland ski shuttle ($295,000 – $75,000 RMI funding)

6. Spokane/Kelowna shuttle ($48,000 – $12,000 RMI funding)

The bike washing station project aims “to reduce the potential for invasive species spread onto our trails from bikes by providing an easy way for tourists to clean their bikes before and after hitting the trail,” a report from Tourism Rossland to council says. “Via signage and the bike wash station, we hope to educate the public on the spread of invasive species and their part in reducing that spread.”

The nearly $200,000 downtown public washroom will also see streetscaping and other enhancements.

“We receive constant feedback from the business community that they are reluctant to provide this service for non-paying customers and would like to see the development of the public washroom,” according to the report. “Additionally, the facility would be a great public asset for our residents as well.”

While all the projects are designed to support tourism, one of the more specific ones for that goal is to establish a shuttle between Kelowna and Rossland.

“During the 2019-21 [Resort Development Strategy] cycle, we would like to explore the possibility of establishing a similar service between Kelowna and Rossland,” the report states. “The service also helps reduce car traffic to Rossland and directly encourages our visitors to use the Rossland ski shuttle while in town.”

Teasdale says the city will use the RMI funding to leverage funding from other sources to offset the cost of the projects. Local businesses and fees for service — like fares for the shuttle service — also support the spending.

Under the terms of the contract, the city may get even more than $100,000. Any money over that amount will be put in a reserve fund to cover cost overruns or unforeseen expenses on the projects, says Teasdale.

The city has set growth targets for its tourism industry as a way to determine if the projects have been successful.