Butchart Gardens Spring 2020 (ItkasanImages)

BC’s anchor attractions are getting support as another pandemic-tinged summer ushers in.

Announced during a press conference on Tuesday, Premier John Horgan announced a $50 million dollar grant that will support what the BC government has called “anchor attractions.”

As part of BC’s Budget 2021, the BC Major Anchor Attractions Program will provide up to $1 million per attraction through a one-time grant.

Applications are open from now until June 7th and funds will be provided in July.

The criteria for major anchor attractions include attractions in urban centres, attractions in rural areas, tour bus companies, and “turnstile” attractions such as amusement parks, wildlife parks, botanical gardens, heritage institutions, museums, galleries and science centres.

Major attractions that garner 75,000 or more visitors a year can apply for up to $1 million, and attractions in rural areas that attract 15,000 or more visitors and tour bus companies that serve 30,000 or more passengers are eligible for up to $500,000.

The grants are intended to offset costs including payroll, rent, and utility costs related to restarting or ramping up operations in preparation for gradual reopening aligned with provincial health orders.

While there is optimism that tourism will return to normal within the summer months, Premier Horgan iterated that this summer will unlikely be like summers’ pre-pandemic.

In a question regarding the cruise ship industry this summer, Premier Horgan said the season will not be returning until next year.

For places like Butchart Gardens, this grant is a stepping stone.

“For large attractions entering a second year of a 90% reduction in revenue, we appreciate this funding gesture as it will help contribute toward some fixed costs like insurance or property tax,” said David Cowan, CEO, Butchart Gardens, and Nancy Stibbard, CEO and owner, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.

It’s unclear whether smaller tourist attractions, such as whale watching charters, will be able to apply for the grant.

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