Cortes Island seeks $50K to aid tourism

Request for Gas Tax Fund withdrawal would go toward signage, kiosk and maps to help guide visitors

Cortes Island Business & Tourism (CBIAT) is requesting a grant of $50,000 from the Strathcona Regional District’s (SRD) Gas Tax Fund to help tourists find their way around the island.

Cortes has approximately $350,000 of Gas Tax Funds allocated to it, based on the island’s population. That allocation needs to be spent by 2024, and this money would come out of that pool.

The expression of interest from Sandra Wood on behalf of the CBIAT was presented by Cortes Director Noba Anderson at the Aug. 12 meeting of the SRD board of directors.

In it, CBIAT says its project, “fits the new Gas Tax grant categories of Tourism & Regional Infrastructure that will encourage and support the creation of an environmentally responsible tourism-based economy on Cortes Island.”

It would do so by incorporating a mobile visitor information kiosk, complete with educational brochures and safety information, inside the BC Ferry terminal at the Campbell River dock (which could be moved to other locations should it be deemed more effective at any given time) and a planned park infrastructure enhancement in the form of signage and maps.

“Cortes Island hosts thousands of tourists,” the letter states. “The majority of visitors arrive by BC Ferry at Whaletown, or by boat and water taxi at the public docks where there is little signage and no proper visitor orientation. This gives a poor first impression and is a lost opportunity to properly greet and orient visitors, or to direct them to the Museum for more tourism information.”

The project’s total budget is set at $67,000. The CBIAT says it has raised $15,000 so far for the project, but $7,500 of that money is from the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) and is contingent on them securing funds from the Gas Tax Fund before they can access it.

The ICET deadline for the CBIAT to secure the Gas Tax funds from the SRD was set at Aug. 20, but the CBIAT has applied for an extension.

Director Anderson recommended SRD staff prepare a report to see how the CBIAT program would mesh with work done by the parks department, as there is some overlap in the goals of those groups. The the Gas Tax application will be reviewed during that process.