Province helping rural British Columbians

THE B.C. government is investing $4.5 million to help rural businesses and communities recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to make sure we’re supporting rural businesses and communities, so jobs and services are there for the people who rely on them in these difficult times,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, on Wednesday. “This announcement recognizes the unique economic impact the pandemic has had on rural communities and ensures we get the funding to areas where it is needed most.”

The funding will be distributed and administered by the Northern Development Initiative Trust, the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust and the Island Coastal Economic Trust. Each trust will receive up to $1.5 million.

About 60 temporary jobs are expected to be created in rural communities throughout B.C. These jobs will be focused on providing support and advisory services to help rural businesses and communities with their economic recovery efforts. To ensure the funding has the broadest reach, some rural areas outside of the regions covered by the three trusts will be eligible to receive funding.

The three trusts have established their own regionally specific criteria for advisory services to work in rural communities. These positions will offer services to rural businesses and communities, and may range from supporting shifts in business focus, to linking communities to resources that support their economic recovery.

“It’s clear rural B.C. has unique recovery needs, and the challenges are different for us in these communities,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development. “This new investment will help recovery in our rural communities throughout the province, guided by those local organizations that know best what these rural communities need.”

Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, said, “Our StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan is designed to create employment throughout the province. Investment in our rural communities through partnerships with these development trusts allows us to ensure support is received in the regions that need it most.”

StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan provides employment and economic opportunities to support a wide range of projects throughout the province. The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is responsible for economic recovery programs worth more than $100 million. The funding for rural business and community recovery represents a portion of this investment.

Line Robert, CEO, Island Coastal Economic Trust, said: “This is an important and timely initiative for the region’s rural businesses and community recovery work. We are grateful to the Province of B.C. for the opportunity to support new employment positions, which will address the range of unique needs and opportunities in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.”

Laurel Douglas, CEO, Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust (SIDIT), said: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone, and we appreciate the support from the Province and its confidence in SIDIT to help distribute this funding in our region. This timely investment by the Province is most welcome as we work to improve the lives of our citizens, support our businesses and sustain the exceptional quality of life in our southern Interior communities. This assistance will help the communities and businesses in the southern Interior to recover more quickly as we all work to stabilize our economy and position it for the future.”

Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust, said: “We are pleased the Province recognizes the impacts of COVID-19 on the people and businesses that are essential to northern B.C. The StrongerBC recovery plan will invest some much-needed funds into this region.”