The proposed West Bay Trail from Salmon Arm to Tappen is one of the projects left with an uncertain future after the B.C. government announced the suspension of the Rural Dividend Program. (Google Maps photo)

Shuswap projects left with uncertain future after rural dividend funding suspended

Application process for funding halted so money can go to struggling forestry sector.

In an effort to prop up the province’s struggling forestry sector, the B.C. government suspended its rural dividend program, leaving some Shuswap groups which had been counting on the funding in a tight spot.

All applications to the fund received in this year’s June 15 to Aug. 15 intake are suspended until further notice. A statement from the government said all applications will be retained for vetting or funding consideration at a future date.

Funding applications received and approved during the 2018 application process are unaffected by the suspension of the program.

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson issued a statement on Sept. 24 calling on the B.C. government to reinstate the fund immediately. Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo called drawing from a fund meant to help rural communities diversify their economies ‘mean spirited.’

Read More: Evacuation alert lifted, worries persist along unstable South Shuswap creek

Read More: Rain puts out truck fire on Highway 1 west of Revelstoke

Kyllo noted the vast revenues the province draws from the forestry sector from stumpage fees, income taxes and other sources as well as the money the province saved this year due to a moderate forest fire season. He brought up the government funding a top-up for electric vehicle subsidies from a contingency fund, while taking the forestry assistance from a fund already bound for rural B.C., as an example of the government’s lack of concern for rural areas.

He said projects such as Salmon Arm’s Innovation Centre, which was assisted by rural dividend funding, will benefit the community for generations.

“To cannibalize that program and to take away the opportunity for other communities to access funds for programs like the Innovation Centre at the very time we’re trying to diversify local economies, it seems like robbing Peter to pay Paul to me,” Kyllo added.

Read More: B.C. communities protest transfer of aid funds to those hit by sawmill closures

Read More: Rural Dividend Fund supports projects across North Okanagan and Shuswap

One of the Shuswap groups that had hoped to put rural dividend money to work this year is the Shuswap Trail Alliance. Projects the Trail Alliance has been a partner on have benefited greatly from rural dividend funding in the past. Last year local governments and First Nations partnered with the alliance to secure $600,000 in rural dividend fund which assisted the rail trail and Secwepemc landmarks and trail sign projects.

Trail alliance executive director Phil McIntyre-Paul said it was hoped that a similar investment could be secured to help out the West Bay Trail project aimed at a safe pedestrian link between Salmon Arm and the nearby Neskonlith and Adams Lake reserves. Grants to support region-wide trail planning and infrastructure improvements focused on alpine trails in the east Shuswap were submitted this year at the cost of resources and staff time with no indication that grants from the dividend would be suspended.

Community Futures Shuswap had applied to the Rural Dividend Fund for phase two of its Indigenous tourism development project. Executive director Rob Marshall said phase one of the project is currently underway, having previously received support from the Rural Dividend Fund.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Deadline to apply for Kelowna neighbourhood grant program is quickly approaching

The grant will match up to $1,500 for community projects

Solution being found after Kelowna housing society misplaces washer and dryer unit

Shannon McDonald wanted to pay it forward with a gift, but there was a communication error

Central Okanagan superintendent outlines priorities for 2019-2020 school year

Infrastructe and program development were main themes in presentation

Lake Country man charged for killing his wife expected to enter plea

Lambertus “Bert” Westervelt was charged with second-degree murder of his wife in April

Breakfast with the candidates: Central Okanagan candidates to meet for early morning panel

The event will feature a round of ‘speed dating’ followed by a one-hour panel

VIDEO: #MeToo leader launches new hashtag to mobilize U.S. voters

Tarana Burke hopes to prompt moderators to ask about sexual violence at next debate

Potent power play paces Canucks to 5-1 win over Detroit

Miller nets a pair as Vancouver wins third straight

Okanagan ski hills highlighted on website’s ‘most affordable’ list

HomeToGo looks at rentals, lift passes, accommodations and food to compile list of Top 50

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

VIDEO: Meet your Kelowna-Lake Country candidates

All seven Kelowna-Lake Country candidates answer questions about themselves and their policy

VIDEO: Meet your Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola candidates

Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola candidates answer questions about themselves and their policy

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

Most Read