QUESNEL (June 10, 2021) – Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes put the Tourism Minister in the hot seat today by exposing the lack of support for anchor attractions like Billy Barker Days, the Quesnel Rodeo, and the North Thompson Fall Fair.
When this question was first raised by MLA Oakes at the Legislature during Question Period on May 19, 2021, Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport had this to say in reply: “I welcome the member opposite to encourage folks to apply. This is a grant. It’s not a loan. It’s to support these really vitally important attractions so that they’re there to welcome visitors when it’s safe to do so.”
All applications by these anchor programs in the Cariboo subsequently did apply for funding and were all immediately rejected.
“The Minister of Tourism virtually stood in this Legislature and told groups like the Quesnel Rodeo, the North Thompson Fall Fair, the IPE and a host of other groups to apply for this funding,” Oakes asserted. “So what did these groups do? They listened to the minister. They applied. What was the response? I quote: ‘As noted in the program guidelines, festivals and events are ineligible.’ Can the Premier please tell these groups why they were so badly misled?”
Minister Mark had a very difficult time explaining why all of these important events throughout the Cariboo are ineligible for provincial support.