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Sea to Sky MP announces half-billion tourism fund

As borders are poised to reopen, MP Patrick Weiler was at a landmark Squamish tourist facility to make the announcement.
As the prospect of borders reopening draws closer, the member of parliament for West Vancouver — Sunshine Coast — Sea to Sky Country was in Squamish to announce the roughly half-a-billion-dollar Tourism Relief Fund.

On July 22, MP Patrick Weiler was at the base of the Sea to Sky Gondola to declare that businesses could apply to the federal government for a grant from this new $485-million fund.

"To help businesses welcome back Canadians when it's safe to do so, our government recently announced the launch of Canada's new half-billion [dollar] Tourism Relief Fund," said Weiler during the press conference.

"Through this support, tourism operators will be able to ensure the greatest experience for Canadians and visitors from abroad when the travel restrictions are lifted. This investment will help businesses and organizations in the tourism sector adapt their operations to the new normal, and modernize their offerings, as well as projects that will help the sector adopt more environmentally sustainable and inclusive practices."

The announcement comes as speculation swirls about a possible federal election being called late this summer or early this fall.

There hasn't been a specific amount of money earmarked for Squamish, or any other local community, as how much the area gets will depend on the applications received.

A broad array of organizations can apply for the money, such as businesses, not-for-profits and First Nations governments, among others, Weiler said.

"It's purposely made fairly broad to be able to account for something that might not fit that neat definition of a tourist business," he added.

Weiler also highlighted that $1 million has been given to the Sea to Sky Gondola via the federal government's Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.

The gondola's general manager, Kirby Brown, expressed gratitude for the five-year interest-free loan, especially given the financial difficulty imposed by the two cases of sabotage against the facility.

"The RRRF fund that we received just gave all of us the confidence that we have a stance that could deal with whatever is coming next," said Brown.

He said Rob Dykstra, the new RCMP inspector in the Sea to Sky Corridor, is working to accelerate the investigation.

Brown said the $250,000 reward that the gondola offered up for the case's resolution was still up for grabs.

"The reward is still outstanding, but it's alive today for anybody who can contribute information," he said.

People can find if they qualify for the Tourism Relief Fund.