Acting on the recommendations from the Rural Advisory Council, Premier Christy Clark announced the up to $75-million Rural Dividend to assist communities transition their economies, during her speech to Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ delegates today.
Rural communities struggling to reinvigorate and diversify their local economies will be supported in building and implementing their own solutions, based on their community’s values and needs. The Rural Dividend will support innovative and ambitious ideas and solutions with potential for the greatest impact on rural communities.
Supporting rural community transition and stability, the Rural Dividend will be focussed on the following priorities:
- Building community capacity and quality of life.
- Expanding learning and skill development opportunities.
- Providing opportunities for rural youth to stay and return to rural communities.
- Encouraging collaboration and partnerships between rural British Columbians and First Nations.
The $25-million per-year pilot program will run from 2016-17 to 2018-19, and only be available to communities, outside urban areas, with a population of 25,000 or under. Communities will need to clearly articulate what the funds will be used for and demonstrate the need to be filled. The eligibility criteria and other program details will be finalized by March 2016. The application process will be fully operational starting 2016-17.
The funding will be administered by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, given its responsibility for rural development.
Premier Christy Clark ─
“As the global resource economy is in transition, some of the communities that contribute the most to B.C. are feeling the pinch. The Rural Advisory Council was set up to help identify opportunities for communities to diversify their economies – and now we’re delivering on our commitment to a Rural Dividend.”
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson ─
“This funding, along with the Forest Communities Fund announced today, will provide an added boost to those communities who want to diversify their economy beyond forestry.”
Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Peter Fassbender ─
“What better place to announce funding of this size than at UBCM? Many small community councils are present and are able to hear first-hand the benefits that the Rural Dividend can provide to their community.”
Parliamentary Secretary and chair of the Rural Advisory Council Donna Barnett ─
“I am proud of what the Rural Advisory Council has accomplished by providing the principles that are the basis of the Rural Dividend. These are the people that understand what their communities need the most.”
- The Rural Advisory Council was formed in March 2015.
- Chaired by Parliamentary Secretary Donna Barnett, the council is comprised of 14 other members from rural B.C.
- The council meets on a quarterly basis, with its next meeting Oct. 15-16, 2015.
Existing programs that support rural communities under 25,000:
- Small Community Grant:
- Community Works Funds:
- Strategic Priorities Fund:
Rural Advisory Council: www.gov.bc.ca/ruraladvisorycouncil