It’s official – White Rock will not have a free trolley service this summer.
Tourism White Rock executive director Betina Albornoz confirmed this week that the program is among initiatives that have been culled as a result of reduced city funding.
“In order to align our programs and activities with our current funding levels, our organization needs to scale down our operations,” Albornoz told Peace Arch News by email.
“With the current level of funding available this year, our organization will not have adequate resources to undertake projects of this magnitude.”
Albornoz had warned of “the end of Tourism White Rock as we know it” in March, during a public opportunity to comment on the city’s 2015-2019 draft financial plan – which included funding for 2015 equal to about half of what was provided the year prior.
Council voted that month to increase the TWR allocation by $20,000, but Albornoz said at that time that it would not be enough to sustain current operating levels.
The trolley costs $30,000-$40,000 per year.
She told PAN that moving forward, the organization will focus on operating the city’s uptown and waterfront tourism centres. Exactly what else may be affected has not been worked out, she said.
But while Albornoz described the trolley as “a great attraction for our community,” the head of the city’s business improvement association said its benefit hasn’t been proven.
Douglas Smith described response to it as “mixed,” but said the BIA was prepared to consider helping fund it – provided an analysis showed benefits outweighed costs.
“The question has never been do we support it or not,” Smith said. “We will look at any proposal, whether it’s Tourism or anybody else, that has potential benefit for our businesses. But, any presentation needs to be done in a timely fashion. No funds for the trolley were put into our 2015-2016 budget because we never received a proposal.”