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Resort developments need more certainty: task force

Resort expansion and new resort development in B.C. is about to be made more efficient following the work of the B.C. Resort Task Force Advisory Group.

Resort expansion and new resort development in B.C. is about to be made more efficient following the work of the B.C. Resort Task Force Advisory Group.

Most of the group's work is done now following the release of a series of recommendations from the group of experts in the tourism field.

Squamish's Economic Development Officer, Lee Malleau, and the Resort Municipality of Whistler's administrator, Jim Godfrey, were two of the people on the 15-member task force. Squamish Nation Hereditary Chief Gibby Jacob was also a task force participant.

Malleau said she was glad that she was involved in the process of moving the provincial government toward its vision of making the province a world-class all-season resort destination of choice.

The task force made 14 recommendations, touching on transportation issues, sustainability, First Nations involvement in tourism, marketing, clustering, certainty, land-use conflict resolution and flexibility in regulations.

According to the group's executive summary, stakeholders who participated in the initiative stressed that certainty is needed in government policy, review, processes, land use decisions, First Nations issues, projected costs, financing and inter-agency coordination.

"Resort stakeholders desire consistency and a reduction in the provincial policy burden that hinders or limits their ability to successfully operate or expand," the report reads.

On the topic of marketing, the task force found that efforts around the province are not seen as fully effective.

"The bottom line here is that B.C. has the opportunity to strengthen its global position in the market place as a world-class destination," said Malleau after the release of the recommendations. "There aren't very many regions that have the diversity of products in one region."

Malleau pointed out that B.C. has marine-based tourism, mountain attractions and everything in between in both indoor and outdoor settings.

"That's what makes B.C. such an incredible resort destination," said Malleau.

"Across B.C., resorts are helping to diversity the economies of rural communities," said Sandy Santori, the minister of state for resort development. "This government is working hard to identify opportunities to expand existing and new resorts, grow the industry and create local jobs."

The provincial government is predicting that the resort industry in B.C. will see $1.2 billion in new investment and expansion of existing resorts over the next two to five years.

Malleau described the task force initiative as a good investment of her time.

"That's especially true given the opportunities to develop more resort products ourselves for Squamish."

Now that the recommendations are public, the provincial government is expected to use the recommendations to create new legislation that will help the resort industry grow.

Godfrey and Malleau will have an opportunity to help in the creation of the legislation by reviewing and commenting on the draft versions of the legislation.

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