Multiple Vancouver Island communities, considered to be tourism-dependent, are set to receive a financial boost from the B.C. government for new tourism infrastructure developments amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government will be spending a total of $9.2 million in 14 communities across British Columbia for new tourism projects.
On Vancouver Island, the communities receiving funding include Tofino, Ucluelet, Port Alice, Parksville, Ladysmith, North Cowichan, and Qualicum Beach.
“The tourism industry drives our local economy, and COVID-19 has put a lot of pressure on people and businesses,” said Adam Walker, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum. “This funding will create jobs, build more welcoming spaces for visitors for when we’re able to travel, and solidify Qualicum Beach and Parksville as the world-class destinations locals know them to be.”
In Qualicum Beach, the $700,000 of funding will be spent on a waterfront expansion with parking, mobile vendors amenities, covered seating, washroom, and overnight recreational vehicle parking spaces.
The government says that a total of 46 new tourism-development projects were identified by communities throughout B.C. and include updated trails for e-bikes and adaptive trikes, signage, solar electric-vehicle charging stations, sea kayak touring and picnic facilities, water park construction, and creating an arts and culture stage.
In the northern Vancouver Island community of Port Alice, the investment will be put towards kayaking infrastructure.
“The kayak infrastructure will enable visitors to spend time in Port Alice exploring our marine environment and taking in the beauty of the West Coast,” said Kevin Cameron, Port Alice mayor. “This grant offers our community opportunities to support local tourism and economic development that would not be possible to fund otherwise. We are grateful to the provincial government for making this possible.”
According to the government, the approved projects must be completed by March 2023.
The funds will be allocated to these communities through the Tourism Dependent Communities Initiative.
Communities have been identified as tourism-dependent based on a combination of criteria, including:
- collecting the municipality and regional district tax;
- having a population of fewer than 25,000 and located outside of Metro Vancouver or the Capital Regional District; and
- having a higher percentage of accommodation-sector wages in comparison to total employment wages.
A detailed list of tourism projects for the Vancouver Island communities can be found here.