The loss of the bid to secure the Ironman triathlon last October will strengthened the City of Kelowna’s resolve to compete and land big-label events with top-tier potential as tourist draws.
Monday afternoon, city councillors approved guidelines for developing a new fund to give Kelowna a competitive bite when the municipality steps up to bid on festivals and events against areas where major incentives are already on the table.
“The environment is changing, municipalities are targeting events because of all of the positive benefits they bring in,” said Don Backmeyer, City of Kelowna manager of sport and event development.
In discussing the matter, the council noted some areas are even pouring major dollars into their bids provincially in a spend-money-to-make-money approach similar to the tax breaks and financial incentives offered to the entertainment industry internationally.
“I think we have to step up to the plate and, even if we’re not Saskatchewan, really plow the money into these things,” said Coun. Maxine DeHart after hearing how proactive the prairie province is in its bid system.
In order to qualify for the new grant cash pots, events will need to have a broad appeal across demographics, be high quality and environmentally and financially sustainable, and elevate the profile of the community.
The city will be offering $25,000 to off-set the cost of city services like street sweeping, policing and park rentals. There will also be a pot of up to $25,000 available for strategic events, those which have multiple components and are either new or significant to the city.
The grants are a pilot project that start this August.