Northern Development approves over $1.4 million in economic development projects in Northern B.C., including funding for the Dunster Community Forest

Press release from Northern Development Initiative Trust

Northern Development today announced the approval of $1,424,018 for eight projects in its service region that seek to enhance and diversify the economy.

At its February 26 meeting, Northern Development’s board of directors approved the following projects through the Economic Diversification Infrastructure Program:

$250,000 was approved for the Prince Rupert Curling Club for facility upgrades. These upgrades will include a full replacement of the ice making plant facility, which will comply WorkSafe regulations. The club remained closed for the 2019/2020 season due to the outdated system. This comprehensive renovation project will begin with the replacement of the existing ammonia plant with a freon based cooling system, followed by renovation of the existing hall to rebuild the kitchen and washrooms adjacent to the rental hall. With rentals being a major source of income for the curling club, upgrades to the washroom and kitchen will ensure that the facility can generate sustainable revenues now and into the future.

$250,000 was approved for renovations to the Takla Trading Post (TTP), located in the Takla Nation. The TTP is comprised of a grocery store, café and 13-room motel. The renovations will include new signage, floor replacement, exterior upgrades, new furniture, computer system improvements, a freezer and a fuel pump for increased efficiency. In addition, renewable energy solar panels will be installed on the roof of the facility to reduce electricity costs. This project will be the first step of many to repurpose TTP into an Indigenous, eco-tourism center. Over time, plans include creating a tourism information booth to guide travelers to nearby fishing spots, campgrounds and to arrange for cultural outings and berry picking. The newly renovated facility is expected to generate revenue from the tourism industry by increasing the number of tourists staying at TTP and utilizing the grocery store, café and the gas station.

$248,500 was approved for the Village of McBride for upgrades to the McBride Train Station in order to encourage tourism. These renovations include the installation of a new roof, along with new venting and insulation, reinforcing the second floor of the train station including new flooring and walls, a redesign of the kitchen and improved washrooms. Capital investment in the train station will support the Village of McBride in its efforts to realize tourism-focused economic development initiatives. The proposed upgrades to the station are critically important to ensure the infrastructure can continue to support over 20,000+ visitors a year and accommodate future growth of tourism-based businesses at the train station.

$225,687 was approved for the District of Mackenzie to invest in upgrades for the Mackenzie RV Campground. This district owned campground offers 27 full-service sites, nine power only sites and seven un-serviced sites. There are also men’s and women’s washroom and shower facilities. Given the campground is over 30 years old, the following upgrades will be completed: new plumbing fixtures, increased service to power sites, new roof, insulation and interior finishes for the shower facilities and the addition of sewer and water to the remaining power-only sites. With an increased service level and campsite capacity, it is anticipated that revenue generation will increase. Additionally, visiting campers spend money at local businesses and that contributes to the vitality of the local economy and has a ripple effect in the community.

$175,000 was approved for the Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society to purchase, install and operate a commercial hydroponics greenhouse system on property the Society owns in Prince Rupert. The concept of the commercial hydroponics unit is to provide food security to society member communities and to gain return on investment through the retail sales of greens and herbs. The broad goal of the project is to sell greens at a retail price to the wider community. The completion of this project will allow the society to develop partnerships with their member communities to assist with food security.

$100,000 was approved for the Yunesit’in Government for the construction of a guest lodge in the community of Yunesit’in. The lodge will serve as the catalyst to supporting the future development of Indigenous tourism businesses, ecotourism and guide outfitting in the coming years. Further, the lodge will serve as accommodation for contractors, consultants, government representatives and service agency staff that typically travel great distances each day from Williams Lake (or further) to work with Yunesit’in. The lodge will be a freestanding structure that will consist of a main unit with three bedrooms, a washroom, powder room, full kitchen and living/dining area. A second, smaller unit will be attached and will consist of one bedroom, washroom, kitchen and living area. As a community-led initiative, the design includes outdoor gathering areas for community members.

$98,000 was approved for the Village of Fraser Lake to purchase land and a building to develop the Fraser Lake Community Drop-In Centre. In addition to the purchase, the building needs renovations in order to make it a full functioning community centre space. These upgrades include new windows and doors, added roof insulation, hot water tank, new vestibule, new insulated siding and the replacement of all interior lighting. This facility will support the current tenants, while expanding to support other community services. Currently, community non-profit groups do not have a mobility disabled accessible meeting area. The Village would encourage these groups to utilize the current board rooms in the facility for their meetings and functions. With the downturn in the economy, the Village requires a space that community support services can operate as needed at an affordable rate.

$76,831 was approved for the Dunster Community Forest Society (DCFS) to purchase a small wood products manufacturing shop from the current owner who is planning to retire. The purchase includes the land and building with the goal of restarting and growing the business in order to create jobs and to add value to the forest tenure. The funding will be used to purchase the equipment and upgrade the building to accommodate the diversification and expansion of product outputs – including paneling, molding, cabinetry, tonewood and finishing. Upgrades to the building will allow for year-round production as well as contribute to electrical energy cost savings for heating the building.