The Village of Cumberland is reviewing its stance on regional tourism.
After pulling out of the Comox Valley’s regional organization and paying a price to do so several years ago, the village is now considering joining again.
The village is being asked to respond to the Comox Valley Regional District’s review of regional economic development and tourism services.
The main development over the last year or so has been Tourism Vancouver Island (TVI) coming in to oversee the tourism operations, replacing the previous organization, the Comox Valley Economic Development Society (CVEDS).
Cumberland had had issues with CVEDS over its service and decided to leave in 2016, striking out on its own for economic development in general.
In recent years, other partners started to reconsider the relationship with CVEDS, which led to the CVRD board voting to end the contract with CVEDS in early 2021.
TVI then formally took over the tourism operations, including operations at the Vancouver Island Visitor Centre, during last summer.
“One of the first things they did was reach out to our community,” Cumberland economic development officer Kaelin Chambers told council at the July 11 meeting. “The connection they’ve made with our business community has been really great.”
During discussion, council members brought up past issues with the regional tourism body, as well as questions around the visitor centre mortgage and the commitment to conservation issues in light of impact from the tourism sector. Another hope the village has is to be able to use hotel tax money, especially from short-term vacation rental housing, to help building more affordable housing for residents in Cumberland.
“There’s still a lot of conversation around that,” Coun. Jesse Ketler said.
Still, the consensus among council members was they had been happy with the change of organizations, enough to consider looking into rejoining a regional body.
“TVI’s doing a great job, and I think we should join the service,” Coun. Vickey Brown said.
At the end of the discussion, council passed motions to authorize entry into the regional tourism agreement, respond to the CVRD’s request for consent to its bylaw, have staff produce a report on the inclusion of Cumberland as a formal participant in the Comox Valley Tourism Service and invite the regional district to appear as a delegation before council to present on the outcomes of the service review.