The B.C. Government has announced that it is distributing over $464,000 in new grants aimed to help small communities develop projects to diversify and strengthen their economies.
The grants are all part of the BC Rural Dividend Program, which has $75 million worth of grants that will be spread out over three years. In this first intake, 47 grants in total were announced across the province, totalling $464,294, which will be awarded to 30 local governments, 15 First Nations and two not-for-profit organizations from around the province. A total of 62 development applications were received in the first intake.
Locally, there were nine communities across the Kootenays that received funds, including Golden and the Village of Canal Flats.
“We’re really pleased with the calibre of applications in the first intake of the BC Rural Dividend,” said Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson in a press release. “The project development funding demonstrates government’s commitment to support rural British Columbians build communities where they can raise their families with pride and certainty.”
The Project Development grants, of up to $10,000 each, are to be used to promote economic sustainability while contributing to a community’s overall resilience and livability. The government made a commitment at the launch of the BC Rural Dividend program in April to give priority to Project Development applications and announce the funding decisions in the summer, before announcing the single project and partnership applications later in the year.
The early announcement of Project Development grants gives successful applicants the funds needed to develop their project applications for future intakes within the program.
Canal Flats was awarded $10,000 for the Village’s two economic development liaisons to come up with a specific plan to be submitted as an application later this year, said Canal Flats mayor Ute Juras.
“Certainly we are very grateful that we were successful with this money and it will definitely help us move forward to plan for the future here,” she said.
Juras said that they do not have anything concrete developed yet but are working with their economic development liaisons, Dianna Brooks and Chris Fields, to come up with a reasonable plan.
A unique element contained in Canal Flats’ application during the first intake, Juras said, was a request to be considered as part of the Special Circumstances in the program. This Special Circumstances section of the program indicates that where an eligible community is facing significant economic downturn and hardship due to a loss of a key economic driver, funding will be considered on the basis of the community’s unique situation. More importantly, funding will be considered on a case-by-case basis and is not limited to intake periods.
This means that if Canal Flats is granted this exemption, they will not be under the same time restriction as other applicants who will have from October 3rd to 10th to submit their applications for the BC Rural Dividend Program’s second intake.
Canal Flats has applied for this exemption in light of the recent mill closure, but is still waiting to hear back whether or not it will be granted.
Final decisions on project applications for single applicants (grants up to $100,000) and partnerships (grants up to $500,000) for the first intake will be announced in September this year.