Candidate Questions 8: Rossland is known as a ski town. How can we increase tourism in the other three seasons? Is that even desirable?
Rossland self-identifies as a ‘ski town’, but the long term viability of this city demands either an expansion of Red or a need for diversification of this identity. Hence today’s question: “Rossland’s economy currently depends on winter tourists. How do you perceive Rossland’s relationship with Red Mountain? How can we increase tourism in the other three seasons? Is that even desirable?”
LAURIE CHARLTON: Rossland’s economy does not depend on winter tourists. Rossland’s economy depends heavily on Teck, the Regional Hospital, government services (federal, provincial, and local), and forestry. Winter tourism is only a small part of the local economy but does have a significant impact on several local businesses. For the foreseeable future, because of the world economy (and the US economy in particular), tourism is going to struggle. All sectors of the tourism industry are seeing decreased visitations. The City should encourage tourism but not at the expense, or to the detriment, of the local taxpayer.
The City has provided significant support to Red Mountain in the last few years but it has been at a significant cost. That’s part of the reason for Rossland’s high taxes.
DAVID KLEIN: I would hope the City of Rossland would have a good relationship with RED or I would want to work to improve it. If people want to increase jobs in town I would think we would want to increase tourism in the other three seasons.
KATHY WALLACE: The community’s relationship with the mountain needs improvement. Rossland would not be what it is if Red Mountain Resort ceased to operate. The alpine ski industry is a particularly challenging business model – it’s extremely expensive and a myriad of factors impact the ability to generate sufficient operating revenue. That’s why ski resorts commonly develop real estate. Besides our recreational enjoyment, Red also employs a significant portion of our population. Red deserves and needs community support. In the late 1980s the mountain stopped being a club and became a private business. Red suffers an unfortunate legacy from the previous club status in the high level of expectation and entitlement that some community members hold. I think the community needs to develop a greater appreciation for the service that RMR provides and the challenges the business experiences.
Tourism Rossland’s focus on mountain biking has been successful in generating more tourism during biking season. Redstone Resort is a world class golf course and I don’t see the community displaying enough appreciation for the value of this asset. Rossland’s local economy is dependent on tourism and encouraging increased tourist visits is necessary.
SHARON WIEDER: Rossland’s relationship with Red Mountain is 3 out of 5 – definitely on the right track with room for improvement. It is very desirable to increase tourism in all seasons and this would be through marketing our outdoor adventure resource. Again, this goes back to creating the vision of rossland that is unique from other places so that people will want to come here for something different.
JODY BLOMME: Being that I worked with the management team at Red Mountain my first winter in town, I was given particular insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ workings of this company, and of their relationship with both Rossland and Rosslanders. Given our location, I don’t believe we will ever have to worry about becoming a Banff or a Whistler, but to have a little more bustle in our restaurants, coffee shops and stores year-round would be nice.
The better City Council does at keeping Rossland an excellent place to live, the more it becomes an excellent place to visit, as well
KATHY MOORE: I think Rossland has an excellent relationship with Red Mountain. In addition to the ski hill, the winter tourist trade is supported by Black Jack Cross Country Ski Club which has seen an increase in day visitors. By improving their facilities the club has been able to attract some prestigious races, thus bringing more visitors to town. The arena provides another winter activity. I’d like to see some marked snow shoe trails that are easy for visitors to access. Tourism at other times of the year is desirable; more visitors spend their money here and support our local businesses. It can be bolstered by more emphasis on mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and heritage activities (Gold Fever Follies, the museum and the heritage walking tour). Tourism Rossland (supported by local businesses, the city and Red) does a good job reaching out to all aspects of the tourist trade.