Change of heart brings funding back to SRTA

Sooke council reconsiders fee for service grant to tourism association

It was the mayor’s prerogative to bring an decision back to council and he did it.

Mayor Wendal Milne used his privilege to bring back the Sooke Region Tourism Association (SRTA) service agreement decision at the regular council meeting on May 27. Council had previously voted against funding SRTA with a requested amount of $23,000.

SRTA, when applying for the grant, neglected to include all of the financial information requested by the Community Grant Review Committee. The committee, and later council, wanted to know where and how the grant funds had been spent in the previous year.

In re-considering the grant funding, Councillor Kerrie Reay, head of the grant review committee, said incomplete information led to the denial of funding and now that all of the information was included and reviewed, she would be in favour of granting the funding.

Coun. Bev Berger said, “this was a hard decision. Not having the information is huge.” She also said she still had some issues with some of the line items, stating that the district cannot be seen to support specific businesses.

Coun. Rick Kasper questioned the obvious mention of three specific businesses in some publications. He said if a business was singled out, they usually paid for part of the advertising costs.

Lyle Markham, speaking for STA, said the articles were written by the publications themselves and the businesses were “cherry-picked.”

Kasper said that the district could not be seen as subsidizing businesses and if SRTA was promoting the whole community, why weren’t all of the accommodations listed. He also questioned why only a very small portion of the costs were covered by business.

“It’s not fair to the taxpayer,” said Kasper. He felt more businesses should be included other than the few mentioned who are members of SRTA and whose owners are on the executive.

Mayor Milne said he wanted to bring it back because of the need to promote Sooke.

“I’m in favour of more consultation and scrutiny,” he said.

SRTA’s funding is dependent on support from the local level. The $23,000 fee for service funding is matched by Tourism Vancouver Island. Their projected yearly budget is $58,468, with the major expenses being a television campaign with Black Ball Transport, videos, website maintenance, brochures and tourist guides.

The district and SRTA will enter into a five-year agreement, with budgets set each year.

Markham said, “we’re not adversaries,” and Mayor Milne agreed stating, “we’re all in this together.”

In other council business, council vote unanimously to approve the 48 Hour Building Permit Application Checklist to be followed when applying for a 48 Hour Building Permit.

The 48 hour permit application applies to one/two family residential building permit applications.

The permit will be issued providing the application is complete. It places the responsibility on the builder  to ensure proper documentation and completeness of information prior to applying for a building permit.

All of the applications need to be in compliance with zoning, the Building Code, Building Bylaw and Development Permit or Variance issues.

The format of the 48 Hour Building Permit processing procedure has been set up to work with the existing building bylaws to reduce municipal liability through the Municipal Insurance Association (MIA). The move to the MIA is basically to shift the responsibility of liability arising from the local authority and place it primarily on the owner and registered professional.

The 48 Hour Building Permit Application is fashioned after one used in Langford.