Ucluelet’s mayor Mayco Noel and Director of Parks and Recreation Abby Fortune flanked B.C.’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare at the Wild Pacific Trail’s Emergency Information Kiosk on April 25. Beare visited Tofino and Ucluelet to celebrate an increase in the province’s Resort Municipality Initiative funding, which helps communities pay for tourism infrastructure projects like washrooms, beach accesses, parking improvements and trails. (Andrew Bailey / Westerly News)

Tofino and Ucluelet host Tourism Minister

Both beach resort towns receive a major funding boost to support year-round tourism.

The Honourable Lisa Beare, B.C.’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, was on the Coast last week to announce fruitful changes to Tofino and Ucluelet’s Resort Municipality Initiative coffers.

For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the District of Tofino will receive about $1.2 million to invest in community tourism while Ucluelet will see about $380,000. Last year, Tofino received $812,400 in RMI funding and Ucluelet was granted about $268,000. The local uptick is part of a province-wide boost to RMI funding, which was increased from $10.5 million to $13 million annually for the next three years.

“I’m very excited to see how the Resort Municipality Initiative has made a difference in your communities. Both Tofino and Ucluelet have put RMI funding into action to showcase our beautiful West Coast,” said Beare at Tofino’s Anchor Park on April 24.

She spoke about Tofino’s new Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation totem pole that was raised in September, 2018.

“I spoke with carver Joe today [and] was so moved to learn about what an incredible gift this pole is to the community and to the visitors who come here to Tofino and to B.C. Thank you Joe for taking some time to share with me,” she said.

“I can’t think of a better way to welcome visitors here,” Beare added. “To have a pole who can greet them with art from people who have been here for thousands and thousands of years.”

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne echoed her statement.

“It’s really important for us to use RMI funds as a way to build a bridge between visitors and residents. It makes better lives for all of us. But also, I think, the words about the totem pole demonstrate that this funding and these programs have the power to build bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities,” said Osborne.

Tsimka Martin, owner of T’ashii Paddle School, spoke on behalf of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.

“It feels really good to know that this beautiful [totem] carved by Joe David, which represents the power and authority of Tla-o-qui-aht values and traditional values, will be well taken care of,” said Martin, adding that the collaboration between Tofino and Tla-o-qui-aht on the Tonquin Trail signage was commendable as well.

She raised concerns about continued growth in the tourism industry, versus taking care of the land and marine life.

“It’s important to reflect on the various ways there is pressure for continued, constant growth. I think we really have an opportunity here to look at the value that we can put in our communities and not just this constant expansion model, but in developing better community. One day, I would love to see a cultural centre. I think that would be amazing,” said Martin.

The RMI funds projects in 14 of B.C’s resort municipalities, including: Fernie, Golden, Harrison Hot Springs, Invermere, Kimberley, Osoyoos, Radium Hot Springs, Revelstoke, Rossland, Sun Peaks, Tofino, Ucluelet, Valemount and Whistler. In the past, the RMI was not part of the ministry’s core budget, making it difficult for resort municipalities to plan long-term projects.

Now part of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture’s core budget, the Districts of Tofino and Ucluelet can plan for tourism-oriented community upgrades that will support the region’s growing economy, states a joint press release issued by the districts.

At an RMI funding announcement event on April 24, Tofino mayor Josie Osborne and Hon. Lisa Beare listened to master carver Joe David share musings about the Tla-o-qui-aht totem pole he gifted to the District of Tofino.

READ MORE: Province announces $2.5-million boost to increase tourism in B.C. resort towns

READ MORE: Tourism Tofino says town’s visitation generates $240-million annually

READ MORE: Aboriginal tourism growing in Ahousaht


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