RMI extension could include new tax

RMI Funds have been used to bring in large events and concerts, such as last summer’s Alan Doyle concert. | FILE PHOTO BY SAM EGAN

The Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI), a provincial funding program for tourism-based communities, is set to expire in 2017. But a committee made of 14 communities, including Sun Peaks, has submitted a proposal consisting of three suggestions to modify and extend the program.

One option presented to the province’s tourism minister, MLA Shirley Bond, was a municipal sales tax with the intention of increasing funding for municipalities that have surpassed the capacities placed on the current RMI tax.

A second option outlined was to remove the cap on funding received and a third was to cancel the traditional RMI funding and allow communities to fund themselves with increased property taxes.

Mayor Al Raine said he believes the best option, especially for Sun Peaks, is the municipal sales tax.

“It’s the best option,” he said. “It would let the strongest RMI communities self-fund.”
The tax, which would likely be applied on all goods within the resort, would allow the municipality to collect its own funds to use on infrastructure projects.

It would not be the first municipal tax as the Municipal Regional Development Tax of three per cent is currently charged on all resort room nights. 2.8 per cent goes directly to the municipality and the remaining 0.2 per cent is kept by the provincial government.
Raine said he thinks if the tax is put into place it could nearly double the amount of funding available, which was around $300,000 in 2016.

An increase in funding would allow the municipality to take on more projects. Raine said he would like to see more summer events and activities and additions to the new ice rink, but a community meeting would be called for suggestions.

“We would be able to take on significant projects,” Raine said. “We need to look after the needs of employees and residents, but also extend attractions and events to the
summer months.”

A proposed additional tax may require approval from retail store owners or a community referendum before being put into place.