People in northern B.C. now have more recreational and cultural opportunities, as well as improved infrastructure and family supports, due to several significant investments made through the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund (NKDF).
In May 2022, the NKDF celebrated a milestone, having invested its 12-millionth grant dollar. The latest grant is for the Nechako Valley Exhibition Society to host an Agriculture Learning Series. The investment will allow more youth to enjoy recreational opportunities and an introduction to local agriculture, the second-largest industry in the region.
“The Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society has done a phenomenal job investing in sustainable economic activity that has proved to be vital in ongoing support to communities, which has benefited people and families,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “Through this fund and the StrongerBC Economic Plan, our government is committed to continuing to support communities to grow an economy that works for everyone because an economy built for all is an economy built to succeed.”
The first project approved by NKDF 23 years ago was for approximately $1,000 for the Vanderhoof Chamber of Commerce to host a proposal-writing workshop. Since then, 413 projects have received financial support for community economic development projects that create jobs and improve community health and life for local residents.
“Our government takes environmental protection very seriously. We work diligently to foster well-regulated, sustainable and competitive resource-based industries that provide opportunities for all British Columbians,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “In addition to good-paying jobs, these opportunities include valuable social programs and community benefits, including family supports and improved infrastructure, as well as recreational and cultural activities.”
The NKDF encourages applications from local governments, First Nations and non-profit organizations that serve the geographic area from Kitimaat Village in the west to the District of Vanderhoof in the east, Lake Babine Nation (Woyenne) to the north and Ootsa Lake to the south.
“People in rural B.C. work tirelessly at building vibrant, inviting communities, even through the many challenges we've faced,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development. “Partnering with rural communities to help them reach their potential is fundamental for community development, and I want to congratulate the NKDF on over 20 years of supporting the dedication and energy of local organizations to make our communities even better places for us all.”
NKDF grants helped Burns Lake to be awarded Canada’s first International Mountain Biking Association Ride Center designation. The NKDF has provided over $449,000 for Burns Lake Mountain Biking Association (now known as the Ride Burns Mountain Biking Association) trail development projects. The most recent project in 2020 was for the Village Connector, part of the 10-trail system at Boer Mountain that has become a world-class mountain-biking destination. The project will be completed this summer. Mountain Bike BC heralds the Boer Mountain trail network as one of the most progressive and sustainable trail networks anywhere.
“We are truly thankful to the NKDF for its continued financial support for our club. With this funding, we have been able to build many amazing trails, which draw people from all over to visit, and they also spend in local businesses in our community,” said Patti Dube, president, Ride Burns Mountain Biking Association. “The benefits to our community and the surrounding area are huge. The NKDF has been with us since the beginning helping us reach our lofty goal of being a world-class mountain-biking destination and a vibrant mountain-biking community. We thank you!"
To support sustainable economic development and community building, the NKDF accepts requests for projects of all sizes, including those seeking small amounts of funding. For example, last year, the Nechako Community Arts Council received $600 to paint a mural to enhance the vibrancy of the community and promote the Arts Wing. Nearly $336,000 has been approved in increments of $5,000 or less for 96 projects. These projects range from community infrastructure updates, such as arena lighting, information kiosks, senior facility updates and interpretive signage to feasibility studies, to projects that support recreational opportunities, including sports equipment, walking trails and campsites.
Since its beginning, NKDF grants have supported communities in achieving economic development and community building goals, while contributing to overall community health and stability.
Andrew Czornohalan, director, Power and Projects, Rio Tinto’s BC Works –
“Over the past 23 years, investments made through NKDF have been instrumental in enhancing communities in their footprint. Projects completed over the past two decades have resulted in employment and economic diversification that supports the stability and growth in our communities. Congratulations to NKDF on its 12-millionth grant dollar and thank you for continuous dedication to livability of the northwest region and creating the community that we all enjoy!”
Cindy Shelford, chair, Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society –
“I am extremely proud of the work that Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society does in our communities and how much has been achieved over the years. Our directors live in the affected region and have intimate knowledge of the communities and the needs. We work closely with the projects we fund to achieve success and enable not only our communities to thrive, but also the people who call them home. The rural North can be proud of its accomplishments and contributions that strengthen the whole of the province. Together, through a grassroots approach to economic development we have accomplished much, and we look forward to partnering on many more projects.”
- For grant requests of $5,000 and under, applications are accepted continuously with a two-week response time.
- For requests for more than $5,000, the next application deadline is July 29, 2022.
- The largest grant given by NKDF was $295,000 to the District of Vanderhoof for its Downtown Revitalization project.
- The NKDF was set up to support sustainable economic activity in northern B.C. communities.
- The Government of B.C. and Alcan Inc. (Rio Tinto) each contributed $7.5 million to establish the Northern Development Fund in 1999.
- The investment income generated from this fund support the NKDF grants program.
To learn more about the StrongerBC Economic Plan, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/plan
For more information about the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society, visit: http://www.nkdf.org/
For more information about Rio Tinto, visit: www.riotintobcoperations.com
A backgrounder follows.