Hotel tax revenues higher than expected 

Municipality to get $1 million more in hotel tax than it initially budgeted for

Whistler got an unexpected boon in these challenging budget times.

The municipality will get $1 million more in resort hotel tax than initially budgeted for in the 2011 plan.

The total will now be $7.5 million.

The news comes just after council managed to balance its 2011 budget with $6.5 million in hotel tax revenues.

When asked if the new money could go towards the $1 million shortfall in transit

"It has to be tourist related," Mayor Ken Melamed said. "It can't reduce taxes."

Under the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) program, Whistler and 12 other qualifying towns, get a bigger share of the provincial hotel tax to put toward tourism related budget items.

For Whistler that means $6 to 7 million more a year.

"It has become absolutely critical for Whistler," said Melamed of the RMI money.

This year the RMI money is being put toward projects such as Bayly Park at Cheakamus Crossing, the Rainbow Theatre rejuvenation, the visitor amenity hub and a host of other projects.


Whistler wants more room, safety for road bikers


With the increase of road bikers on the highway in recent years, Whistler is lobbying the provincial government to step up for the safety of riders.

In a recent letter to the provincial Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Blair Lekstrom, Whistler's Mayor asked for more consideration and dialogue around things like paved, wider shoulders, bike lane 'logos' painted on the shoulders, and signage to alert drivers to road riders.

In particular, he highlighted the significant increases in bike traffic on the highway last year with the hugely successful GranFondo bike race.

"Bicycling tourism is significant and has enormous growth potential of a favourable market demographic," wrote Melamed. "Responding early to this new sporting/event trend will be a great boost to the tourism economy of B.C."

This year's GranFondo will see an increase in race spots from 4,000 to more than 7,000.

"It is safe to assume that we can expect even higher numbers of riders on the roads this summer in the months and weeks leading up to the event," said the mayor.

The GranFondo is scheduled to take place on September 10.




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