Acting on the recommendations from the Rural Advisory Council, Premier Christy Clark announced a new initiative: the multi-million dollar Rural Dividend to ‘assist communities transition their economies,’ during her speech to Union of British Columbia Municipalities’ delegates today.
The $25 million per-year pilot program is designed to run from 2016-17 to 2018-19, and will only be available to communities outside urban areas – with a population of 25,000 or under.
One community in the Peace Region was actually mentioned by Clark during this address.
“Tumbler Ridge, a city of 2,700 … they hosted 8,000 at the dinosaur museum alone. BC is really thriving, and not just in the urban centres but all over the province.” she said.
The Rural Dividend will focus on these 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.
Communities that apply for the funding will need to clearly articulate what it will be used for and demonstrate a need for that assistance.
The eligibility criteria and other program details will be finalized by March 2016, and the application process will begin full operating starting 2016-17.
The funding will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, given its is the ministry that takes care of rural development.