A new team headquarters
Revelstoke’s economic development team has a new home, and so does its visitor information centre
Revelstoke, B.C., has an exemplary model for delivering economic development. The City has received awards from the Economic Development Association of B.C. and from the Union of B.C. Municipalities for the model, which includes convenience for the people it serves and savings resulting from shared operating costs.
Local economic development agencies—the City, the Regional District, Revelstoke's chamber of commerce and the local Community Futures group—plus the visitor information centre have all been housed in the same building for more than 20 years.
The offices of the economic development groups were in a small, converted retail space in downtown Revelstoke, and though their results were good, the space had become inadequate. For many years, from April to October—the busiest season—the chamber of commerce had to lease additional space at other locations for the visitor information centre.
“With the opening of Revelstoke Mountain Resort in 2007,” said Alan Mason, director of economic development for Revelstoke, “we’ve seen a huge increase in our tourism numbers, especially in the winter, making the existing space inadequate year round. It also didn’t fit with our image as a world-class vacation destination to be operating out of a dinky little space.”
Out of the old and into the new
Because the model is so successful, the involved agencies looked for a larger, centrally located building that would again house all of them.
“We partnered with a downtown development company to purchase a portion of a new building being built on Victoria Road, one of our main drives into town,” said Mason. “We raised $1.2 million and bought part of the building.”
As one of B.C.’s 14 official resort communities, Revelstoke is eligible for rebates from provincial hotel taxes, to be used for tourism infrastructure projects; the Province granted Revelstoke $500,000 for the economic development office project. The remainder of the $1.2 million came in thanks to Columbia Basin Trust, Community Futures, the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce and a local economic opportunity fund.
Early February 2014 was move-in time. Mason said that the area dedicated to office space is about the same as it was in the old building, but the visitor information area is much larger.
“The new building is a big improvement,” said Mason. “It has great parking and accessibility—much better than before. The visitor centre presents the image of a community that values tourism, which we do. In the summer we get a lot of tourists driving RVs, and we’ve got good signage that makes it super simple for them to find us and to park their units. We’re about halfway between Vancouver and Calgary, and this is a great place to take a break.”
Mason said that the agencies involved in this project take pride in the excellent partnership that it demonstrates.