The MLA for Cariboo North went to bat for Barkerville during Wednesday’s legislative session in BC.
Coralee Oakes, on ZOOM, took aim at the Premier for what she called drawing an arbitrary line that says Barkerville is treated differently, simply based on geography.
“If Barkerville, Fort Steele or the BC Northern Exhibition were located in the Premier’s riding they would be eligible for twice the support. Not deemed second class attractions under the Premier’s two tier system of supports. Why isn’t the Premier providing support based on what these attractions need to survive instead of an arbitrary criteria and lines on a map ?”
This was Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Melanie Mark’s response.
“I don’t really appreciate the member opposite’s innuendo around this being partisan. Yesterday was a 50 million dollar announcement to support sectors. Now urban communities and urban attractions are going to have a higher threshold of visitors and rural communities are going to have a lower threshold. The urban is 75 thousand, the rural is 15 thousand.”
Mark said that there was a consideration to acknowledge that all the money can’t go to the cities because then the members opposite would be complaining that this was all about the cities.
Earlier, Oakes accused the Premier of bungling another announcement.
“Another flashy announcement and more confusion. After 15 months of begging for help from the sector the Premier promised to save major attractions, but the fact is it’s simply not enough. Not enough to save attractions like the PNE and no support for festivals, events and locations that don’t operate year round like Billy Barker of the Quesnel Rodeo.”
Mark insisted that they listened to the tourism sector in what she called a “call to action.”
Oakes said that Barkerville attracts 70,000 visitors and represents 25 million in tourism activity a year, but faces a nearly 700 thousand dollar shortfall, and can’t access the full support simply because of where they are located.