FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier made a major funding announcement today at the Northeast Aboriginal Business Centre in Fort St. John.
Bernier’s announcement this afternoon was part of B.C.’s Rural Economic Development Strategy, which will see $3.6 billion spent in economic development activities targeted at rural communities this year. Among the initiatives announced included $40 million to expand and enhance high-speed Internet, along with an extension of the $25 million Rural Dividend Fund.
“Creating the conditions for rural British Columbia to grow and thrive is a key priority for our government,” said Bernier. “Building on our Rural Advantages gives rural British Columbians the tools to shape their own future, and reflects the importance we place on the workers, families and businesses who reside in in the rural areas of the province.”
The province will also be investing $79.6-million over the next two years to expand and update post-secondary campuses throughout the province, including over $30-million at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek.
$10 million was announced to support new land management initiatives across B.C. and the Peace River region, including range fencing repairs and multi-year invasive plant management projects with partners such as regional weed committees, the British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association and Ducks Unlimited.
$15 million in funding over three years will be spent on trades equipment in high schools, including $66,367 in Peace River South.
$7.5 million will be spent over three years to upgrade BC Wildfire Service facilities throughout the province, a large portion of which will be spent in Chetwynd.
Over $860,000 under the Rural Dividend will fund six projects, including $385,000 for the Dawson Creek’s Community Futures Peace Liard Project to provide workshops and support programs to help community members start, sustain and expand small businesses, $100,000 for the Invasive Species Council of B.C. to train and certify workers in five Peace Region communities, $100,000 for the Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark Society to develop interpretive programs and improve signage and displays, $100,000 to allow the District of Tumbler Ridge to develop a range of strategic business retention and investment plans, $99,300 for West Moberly First Nations to renovate a heritage conservation and display centre and strengthen its management infrastructure, and $79,816 to help the Tansi Friendship Centre Society in Chetwynd to deliver a training and employment program.
The province will also invest more than $677,000 in the Obair Economic Society, Dawson Creek Literacy Society and the Northeast Aboriginal Business Centre to deliver four skills-training programs for job seekers from communities in the northeast region.
Rebates of up to $3,500 will be available for ranchers through a new Livestock Tag Reader Rebate Program so that ranchers can purchase equipment to enhance food safety and food traceability protocols.
$150 million has been earmarked for the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia to plant millions of trees, which will help fight climate change and create over 3,000 jobs in rural British Columbia.