Hotel tax moving ahead

Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors agreed to support the City of Salmon Arm in its application for a hotel tax – but not without dissent.

Electoral Area D director Rene Talbot and Paul Demenok, Area C director,  expressed their disapproval.

CSRD economic development officer Robyn Cyr’s earlier proposal to apply for the hotel tax on behalf of Shuswap Tourism  was endorsed by members of the Tourism Advisory Committee on Dec. 10.

Cyr subsequently made a presentation to Salmon Arm council, which then decided to go it alone and sent a letter to CSRD asking for board support.

The matter, a late-agenda item at the Nov. 19 board meeting in Salmon Arm, was deferred to a Nov. 26 Tourism Advisory Committee meeting.

Half the members in attendance at that meeting were in favour of supporting the city and half were opposed, with committee chair David Lepsoe breaking the tie in favour of Salmon Arm.

Sill annoyed, Talbot said he had thought the application for a hotel tax should be a joint venture.

“I  still feel that way; I didn’t support it then and I don’t support it now,” he said of the Salmon Arm application. “Robyn has done a fantastic job promoting tourism in Salmon Arm and other areas.”

Demenok agreed.

“I think it should be collaborative; details need to be worked out,” he said. “I have to believe hoteliers would be pleased to accept a joint application… that would be in the spirit of what this initiative is intended to do.”

Area F director Larry Morgan disagreed, saying he didn’t mind Salmon Arm going it alone as electoral areas have different issues and don’t need to be tied to the city.

“I made the motion to write letter of support,” noted board chair Rhona Martin. “Salmon Arm has made the decision that they want to go forward on their own and, as a different order of government, I think we need to support them.”

Mayor Nancy Cooper indicated Cyr and Salmon Arm Economic Development Society manager Lana Fitt had already met with Carl Bannister, the city’s chief administrative officer.

“We are collaborating with Shuswap Tourism and anyone else who wants to come onside…,” she said. “We have a lot of respect for Shuswap Tourism. Most of council is behind them and we would make sure a portion of the money would go to Shuswap Tourism.”

Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz said he understands the dynamics of mayor and council, supports Salmon Arm’s application and noted the District of Sicamous is exploring its own initiatives.

The majority of the board approved a motion to provide a letter of support to the city, with Talbot and Demenok opposed.

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