RDKB board chair and Area C/Christina Lake director Grace McGregor will be returning to her role as a member of the Rural Advisory Council after being reappointed recently. McGregor and the other council members will serve a two-year term.
Making the appointments were Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and Donna Barnett, Parliament Secretary.
The mandate of the Rural Advisory Council is to provide input to government policy decisions to best support thriving rural communities, while keeping in mind government’s need to control spending and ensure an overall balanced budget for the province.
There are 13 council members including elected officials and representatives from First Nations and economic development organizations from small rural communities throughout B.C.
“I want to thank the members of the Rural Advisory Council for their commitment and dedication to helping the province support rural communities to thrive and prosper and for providing a strong voice for rural British Columbia,” said Barnett in a press release.
McGregor was in Kelowna on April 6-8 for the Council of Forest Industries (COFI) convention where she heard Premier Christy Clark speak about the Rural Dividend Program, which McGregor helped bring about through her role on the province’s Rural Advisory Council.
McGregor said she’s glad that the province is listening to the rural communities and taking action.
“I’ve long wanted the province to listen to what rural B.C. wants and this is the beginning of it,” said McGregor. “To have the first thing that we talk about out of the gate accepted and put forward by Christy Clark is a huge message to us. I thanked her for paying attention to rural B.C. and knowing we need the rural dividend.”
McGregor said the COFI conference was very good and featured more than 400 representatives of industry, government, the supplier sector, transportation and logistics as well as consultants to the forest industry.
“The content was really, really good,” she said. “There was a lot of talk about the future of forestry, the fact that we need to get the softwood lumber agreement in place—that kind of thing. But the highlight that Christy was hitting was the Rural Dividend and what that might mean to rural B.C. A lot of us are already looking at projects to put in there. I’ve heard of many people saving projects for that grant.”
The Rural Dividend project is a three-year, $75 million commitment from the province to help rural communities with populations under 25,000 diversify and strengthen their economies. Local governments, not-for-profit organizations and First Nations are all eligible to apply for up to $100,000 for a single applicant, while contributing at least 20 per cent of the total project cost. Partnerships involving more than one eligible applicant can apply for up to $500,000, and must contribute 40 per cent of the total project cost.
Applications for the first year of funding under the program are being accepted from April 4 to May 31 of this year.