Communities in northern B.C. experiencing large-scale development and growth, are now able to apply for a $25 million fund targeted to help address service needs.
“We are seeing immense opportunity and job growth in B.C.’s north,” said Josie Osborne, minister of municipal affairs in a Feb. 2 news release.
“We know that growth can require additional services to meet community needs and, through this new fund, we are working with local governments and First Nations to ensure people have the supports they need, such as child care, social housing, health and mental health support services and help for business recruitment,” she added.
The Northern Health Communities Fund will be available to 22 local governments and 27 First Nations near LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink projects, along with non-profit organizations that provide ‘critical’ services to those communities.
Vanderhoof council will be discussing their application for the fund Monday, Feb. 8 during the regular public meeting of council, said Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen. This funding may be able to provide a solution to the issue of social housing and homelessness in Vanderhoof, he said.
The Northern Healthy Communities Fund is a partnership between the province and Northern Development Initiative Trust. The trust will be administering the program on behalf of the province of B.C. The initial intake of this fund is open until Feb. 26.
“With immense economic growth comes population growth and increased need for social services,” said Joel McKay, CEO of NDIT.
“I applaud the province for recognizing this need and providing a robust funding to meet it head on,” he added.
Eligible communities or organizations will have the option to apply for funding through two streams – capacity building or capital.
As per the press release, under the capacity building stream, applicants will be eligible to receive up to $100,000 to a maximum of 90 percent of the eligible project budget. Projects qualifying for this funding include – expanding hours for child care centres, hiring more employees for mental health services, and supporting small business recruitment, retention and resiliency.
If applicants apply through the capital stream, they can receive up to $300,000 to a maximum of 80 percent of the eligible project budget. Examples of such projects include renovating a child care facility or a building that provides mental health services or renovating a multi-unit house building or upgrades to an indigenous cultural space.
These funds will be disbursed quarterly through intakes over five years. Applications received after Feb. 26, will be considered for future rounds of funding, stated the release.