Banff and Canmore have long made efforts to get special status as tourism-based communities to help support local economies. A report earlier this year that was commissioned by the municipalities of Banff, Canmore and Jasper highlighted how the towns generate $112 million in provincial taxes and contribute $2.3 billion to the province’s GDP. What will you and your party do to help Bow Valley communities support their tourism-based economies? Do you think giving the area a special tourism status similar to resort municipality status in British Columbia is a realistic option?
Kyle Jubb – Solidarity Movement of Alberta
We must invest in our tourism industry all over Alberta. A properly run government should ensure that this province is properly maintained and continues to grow moving forward. We must build better infrastructure to accommodate increased traffic to our communities. For example, to start by building a proper recreation venue which could host nationals for volleyball, lacrosse tournaments, etc. Everyone wants to come to the mountains and we must take advantage of this.
Miranda Rosin – United Conservative Party
I was happy to introduce Bill 208: The Tourism Community Designation Act. The Bill established the framework for a tourism community designation in Alberta’s Municipal Government Act. My bill was curated after years of dialogue and consultation about the matter, and in a manner that balanced the infrastructure needs of potentially designated communities with the focus on growth and economic development desired by industry.
In our Westminster Parliamentary system, private members of the legislature can only introduce Bills on a lottery basis. Each government session, the Speaker of the House draws all MLAs from a hat and MLAs may introduce a bill in the order in which they are drawn. This means that private members cannot control when they are able to introduce a bill or motion. As a result, my bill did not have sufficient time to pass and become law before the election was called, however if re-elected, I will continue to advocate for its re-introduction and passage by other MLAs or a future tourism minister.
Regan Boychuk – Green Party of Alberta
Giving local communities the taxing powers they need to provide the roles they fulfill is an unnecessary power struggle with provincial authorities. It is clear that local government has suffered the brunt of chronic downloading. The Green Party is committed to reversing that trend and empowering local communities. Special tourism status appears to be a step in that direction with considerable momentum and could be amongst the first measures adopted to address such issues.
Sarah Elmeligi – Alberta NDP
The idea of "resort municipality status" has been in discussion since before I moved to the Bow Valley 16 years ago. It's time to get it done. Right now, an amendment to the Municipal Governance Act has been introduced by Ms. Rosin that defines criteria for "tourism-based economies".
If elected as MLA I will review this amendment, reintroduce it, and then ensure it is passed in the legislature as soon as possible. The next step will be to create a program where municipalities that meet the criteria for tourism-based economies – Banff, Jasper, and Canmore – can apply for provincial support associated with the community costs of hosting millions of visitors each year.
We'll start with infrastructure grants, but I see this as the beginning to kick start this program. If successful, we can look at expanding the kind of programs that grants might cover. I think this is not only a realistic option, but one we have to pursue.