Tourism Rossland makes pitch for continued funding of winter shuttle

Arlen MacLaine
By Arlen MacLaine
June 28th, 2013

Tourism Rossland’s Deanne Steven presented to council Monday night, hoping to garner support for the continued funding for a winter shuttle.  

“This is the number 1 priority for Rossland businesses,” she said.  “All our stakeholders, and all the businesses I’ve talked to, say this the one key thing that we can all work on together that would be of most interest for them and their businesses.”

She pointed to the City of Rossland’s Strategic sustainability plan, strategic action #60, which  is to “Establish and maintain a shuttle bus between downtown Rossland, Red Mountain Resort, and the Redstone Alpine Golf Resort.”

There are a lack of transportation options in Rossland, especially in winter.  The taxis do not drive up here from Trail in the winter, and there is infrequent B.C. Transit service linking the communities.  A shuttle linking Red Mountain Resort with the downtown core would be beneficial to all local businesses, Steven explained.  This is not a problem that is unique to Rossland, however.

“This is a competitive feature. Most other comparable resort communities already provide this service.  Fernie, Revelstoke, and Golden all have the same problem, and they’ve already found solutions to it.”

The Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) started in 2006.  There are 14 RMI communities, of which Rossland is the smallest.  Steven pointed out that Rossland would not have received the RMI funding if Tourism Rossland had not gone out and secured the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) funding.  The MRDT used to be called the ‘Additional Hotel Room Tax.’

Each year Tourism Rossland calculates the amount of funding for the RMI based on the number of accommodation units registered with Destination B.C. in their accommodation guide.  “We are currently at 367 units in Rossland.  We need to get to 450 units in order for the funding to be doubled.  If we make it to 450, we receive 56,000 dollars worth of RMI a year, as opposed to only 28,000,” said Steven.

Tourism Rossland has already received 30,000 dollars worth of support from local businesses and stakeholders for this service, but still needs RMI funding in order put the plan into action.  The bus would run every day during the winter, from 8am to 9pm, and it would be free, running on a continuous loop through town every half hour to 45 minutes.

Councillor Jill Spearn commented. “I think the hub of Rossland is downtown, and there are spokes  that go to Redstone, Red Mountain, and to the museum.  Therefore, the movement of people, to me, is critical to the success of the resorts, as well as the businesses of the downtown core.”

Councillor Kathy Wallace supported the proposal as well, but had some concerns about the service being free and its long term viability.

“I don’t want to see this service, down the road, become the responsibility of the property taxpayer, because I don’t think that is appropriate,” she said.  “I’m not sure that I’m totally sold on the ‘hop on the bus for free’ idea.”

To which, Steven replied, “The way I was looking at it, was the businesses are, in fact, paying that 2 dollars for them.  We’re not going to get any revenue from users, but the businesses all recognize that this is important, and they are willing to put to the 2 dollars in for the people who are going to ride it.”

Mayor Greg Granstrom was also in favour of the shuttle service but also had some concerns that the funding for the shuttle would take away from other projects, like the Rossland Museum Gateway project.

“I think there needs to be some creative thinking about how we do it, and to take funding away from other groups, I don’t think is appropriate.”

The proposal will be coming back for council decision next week.

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