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Ski industry association wants to make sure resorts get a cut of province’s recovery spending

Many of B.C.’s resorts manage similar services as municipalities, says CWSAA president and CEO

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With the province deliberating on how it plans to spend $1.5 billion to reinvigorate the economy, the Canada West Ski Areas Association (CWSAA) wants to ensure ski resorts get a cut of the action.

CWSAA president and chief executive officer Christopher Nicolson said the organization put forward a proposal to ensure the province doesn’t exclusively look to municipalities to spend the much-needed recovery money. He pointed out that many B.C. resorts manage similar services as municipalities—such as sewer and water, energy utilities, housing and fire support—and could benefit from the spending.

“Those kinds of things are normally well beyond what an individual company would provide, but many ski areas find themselves in the position of being a provider of what’s often referred to as municipal services,” he said.

The CWSAA’s Mountain Resort Community Emergency Funding Program does not name a dollar figure that should be allocated to resorts, but instead asks that resorts be eligible to apply for recovery money.

Nicolson added that B.C.’s 37 resorts generate roughly $2 billion a year for the provincial economy, and north of $121 million a year in direct tax revenue to the province.

Moreover, Nicolson pointed out that resorts can serve as sustainable, economic hubs. 
“Ski areas, in many areas, are the largest employers,” he said, adding that they can serve to spread out tourism visitation throughout the year.

Resorts also create good jobs for workers, he added.

“These are year-round, full-time, career kinds of professions that people migrate to,” he said. “[The resorts go] far beyond just a four month seasonal winter ski lift operation.”

Nicolson added the program is modeled after the 1978 federal and provincial Tourism Industry Development Subsidiary Agreement (TIDSA). Cited as one of the ways that B.C. became a global ski destination, it injected roughly $200 million in current funds to the province’s fledgling ski industry.

“It really was the foundation for the province to launch itself and now position itself as one of the global leaders within skiing from a financial standpoint,” said Nicolson, adding that the investment turned produced “a very good return on investment” for the province.

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