The members of the province’s Rural Advisory Council, including Columbia Valley resident Susan Clovechok, have been re-appointed.
At the same time, the provincial Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) announced that it is now accepting applications from local projects across B.C. that are seeking funding from the B.C. Rural Dividend Fund (a program the Rural Advisory Council played a key role in establishing).
“I’m really pleased that we’re (the Rural Advisory Council) going to carry on and to be invited back. I’m honoured to be on the council,” said Clovechok, adding the council has met five times so far and has quickly become cohesive.
The 13 members of the council have been reappointed for another two-year term.
“We’ve really gelled and we’ve been able to put aside our own specific areas of expertise and work for the benefit of all of rural B.C.,” she said, adding her time on the council has given her a better understand of how the remote parts of the province are interrelated.
“It’s really given me a better a better perspective on how connected we are and how what happens in, say northern B.C., affects the Kootenay region,” said Clovechok.
“I want to thank the members of the Rural Advisory Council for their commitment and dedication to helping the province support rural communities to thrive and prosper and for providing a strong voice for rural British Columbians,” said parliamentary secretary Donna Barnett in a press release.
The Rural Advisory Council is comprised of volunteers and was formed to provide advice to the government on rural economic development, including rural access to capital and business development support for rural entrepreneurs and businesses; and rural community capacity building, including the Rural Dividend Fund. Those interested in being on the council had to go through an application process for the positions. Council members include elected officials and representatives from First Nations and economic development organizations from small rural communities throughout the province.
The $75 million Rural Dividend was established to help rural B.C. communities with populations of fewer than 25,000 people, and offers $25 million a year worth of funding during the next three years for projects in these communities that fall under the categories of community capacity building; workforce development; community and economic development;, and business sector development.
“The idea is to drive the local economies of rural B.C.,” said Clovechok. “(The fund) is looking for projects that will be sustainable, create jobs and have a lasting impact on the communities where they money is invested.”
The first application intake has already begun (April 4th) and runs to May 31st.
“People that aren’t ready this time around can apply (during the next intake) in October,” said Clovechok, adding that the now that the fund has formally launched, the Rural Advisory Council no longer has any input into it or even any knowledge of who is applying for it. All that work will be done by FLNRO.
According to a ministry press release, single applicants for the Rural Dividend Fund can apply for up to $100,000 for community-driven projects and must contribute at least 20 per cent of the total project cost, while partnerships involving more than one eligible applicant can apply for as much as $500,000, and must contribute 40 per cent of the total project cost. Applicant contributions can include in-kind contributions of up to 10 per cent. A project development funding stream will provide up to $10,000 to help communities with limited capacity build business cases and feasibility assessments to support the development of strong projects and future project applications.
Application forms, program guidelines, and detailed instructions on how to apply cane be found on the new Rural Dividend website at www.gov.bc.ca/ruraldividend.