Province announces $33M to help support the economies of rural and remote communities

Ravi Kahlon, the minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, has announced a new $33 million fund to support remote and rural communities in B.C. (Mike McArthur/CBC - image credit)
Ravi Kahlon, the minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, has announced a new $33 million fund to support remote and rural communities in B.C. (Mike McArthur/CBC - image credit)

The province is rolling out a new $33 million program to support rural and remote communities in British Columbia, including those with economies that are moving away from forestry.

The Rural Economic Diversification and Infrastructure Program will fund qualifying projects under three general streams, including the "forest impact transition" category, which provides a maximum of $500,000 to "projects that support economic recovery and diversification in affected forest-dependent communities."

Funds are also available under the categories of "economic diversification" for communities of fewer than 25,000 people and "economic capacity" for communities of 2,500 or fewer.

Ravi Kahlon, the minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, said the fund is especially important with a potential economic downturn looming.

He said providing money for forestry transition is not indicative of a declining forestry sector.

"Forestry is not a sunset industry," he said. "It's going to play a role in our economy for years to come."

According to Terry Teegee, regional chief of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations, the fund will help First Nations improve economic resilience and increase social stability.

"To create secure, sustainable communities, which align with the sustainable development goals and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, investment is required," he said.

Local governments, Indigenous communities and organizations and not-for-profit organizations can apply for funding starting Nov. 15. Kahlon said a second round of funding could be launched in the new year.