The kerfuffle surrounding the Whistler Film Festival Society’s Rainbow Theatre project has been unfortunate, but it is also a lesson to learn from.
In summary, the muni approved RMI funding for a capital project this year then created a process and committee format to review how those funds should be spent.
The result caught the funds for the Rainbow Theatre in the middle of a process, and meant the society could not access them, even though they were approved.
The frustration was palpable in the room last week as WFFS executive director Shauna Hardy Mishaw put her cards on the table with council.
Alas, it was in vain, as the outcome of the situation had already been decided at the Tourism Whistler board meeting earlier that morning.
The film festival will have to wait to start the project until it can get full funding and update its business plan. While Hardy Mishaw brought a lot of passion, dedication and reasons to move ahead now, council had to follow its process.
And while it may be frustrating, at the end of the day it was the right thing for council to do. It keeps them accountable to their own process.
Council created a committee to look at RMI funding and how it is spent for accountability and transparency reasons. To circumvent a process established in the name of accountability just months after it was created, would undermine the entire purpose of the committee. It would be a political faux pas and one that, as the local media, we Questionables would be sure to point out the hypocrisy of.
Yet in retrospect, council could have anticipated this would happen when it created the committee, knowing they had already approved spending funds beforehand. It could have crafted the process to look specifically at future expenditures, leaving the Rainbow Theatre money outside the process.
Alas they didn’t think of that option at the time, making it a lesson to learn from so that next time council sets up a new process it considers the overall effect it will have first.
In the meantime another year of efforts can now go into this project. More money can be raised to ensure the entire project will be complete once it is started.
It is important to realize this delay does not kill the project or the festival. More time, more money, more agreement from stakeholders that everybody is ready to move forward can only be a good thing for everyone involved, especially those who own the theatre — taxpayers.
Funding announcement a big deal
Our front-page story about provincial funding is a big deal and we are going to tell you why.
Provincial and federal government funding is notoriously short term. Budgets are on a year-to-year basis and details scarce until each spring. Funding programs are short term to maximize the political clout of announcing a new funding program again or silently letting them disappear.
Municipalities, on the other hand, budget from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 as a fiscal year. That means funding from higher levels included in the budget is not always clear at the time council and the public is considering its upcoming fiscal needs.
To actually get an agreement in place with the province to lay out the next five years of RMI funding is, well, going to make all the other municipalities in B.C. jealous and that’s a big deal.