Yesterday in the Legislature, Estimate debates were held for the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. The ministry operations come in at $176,229,000, which includes a $1 million increase in support for Destination BC.
Opposition Critic for Tourism Ben Stewart asked questions on cross-ministry work on resiliency. Minister Popham acknowledged issues around labour as an important part of the conversation. She said conversations around accessing labour around BC will continue, as well as cross-ministry partnership with the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills to grow BC’s workforce from within. As an example, she mentioned discussions with the BC Restaurant Association, and the possibility of a future roundtable discussion around labour.
MLA Stewart also asked whether government is actively tracking the issues impacting all sides of the tourism sector, and Minister Popham said they do via Destination BC. She also said the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation tracks general business health for businesses that support the sector, and that support for tourism would be reflected on investments around future readiness.
MLA Stewart asked questions on hotel capacity, and the work MTACS will do to engage with and manage those issues. Minister Popham noted they are very aware of the rising issues around hotel capacity, and how they will only be more highlighted over the next 8 years as BC hosts major events and attractions. She referenced “conversations happening now… with the hotel association” as well as an upcoming conference in May in the Okanagan with the federal Minister of Tourism, during which one of the discussions taking place will likely be around addressing hotel room capacity.
She noted the importance of collaboration between all levels of government, the private sector, and First Nations in order to address barriers to building new hotels, such as the costs of land, construction, and time. There is urgency around the issue given the forecast that BC will run out of hotel capacity in around five years.
MLA Jordan Sturdy asked questions on the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) and the MRDT. Minister Popham confirmed that RMI is in the base budget now, and as such will not be expiring next year. At the moment, there are no plans to index it, but that could be reviewed in the future.
Minister Popham discussed some expectations around the major event MRDT for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. She stated the City of Vancouver expects total costs to be around $230 million at this time, and that the major event MRDT slated to last until 2030 was to cover those costs, but if they were covered earlier than 2030, the tax would end earlier. At the moment, they are hoping Vancouver could host five matches for the World Cup.
Opposition Critic for Arts and Culture Teresa Wat asked questions around progress on the South Asian museum, the creation of a Filipino cultural centre, and expectations for the third floor of the Royal BC museum’s re-opening. Minister Popham said that conversations around the South Asian museum are occurring right now, and they are using experience from the Chinese Canadian Museum to inform the process. She confirmed work is just beginning on the Filipino cultural centre, and meetings have recently started. She also reiterated they expect the RBCM’s third floor to re-open before the summer.
MLA Trevor Halford asked questions on the recent rejection of the 2030 Olympic bid, and Minister Popham explained there was a lengthy consultation process on topics such as costs between government and the Four Host First Nations, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and local governments.
Lastly, MLA Adam Olsen asked about funds to save fairs and festivals, and Minister Popham discussed the recent $30 million for fairs, festivals, and events across the province.