Prince George, BC – Northern Development Initiative Trust announced funding today for three projects totalling $120,000 for the community of Fort St. James. The three projects will expand the town’s tourism appeal and recreational opportunities, and provide new training opportunities in industrial catering and culinary arts.
Mayor Rob MacDougall announces funding for a number of exciting
community economic development projects in the Fort St. James area
Embracing Our Roots is an initiative by the Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce to revitalize the town’s downtown and provide additional tourism opportunities to visitors to the Fort St. James National Historic Site.
Northern Development has also provided funding to the Fort St. James Ski Club for a multi?year redevelopment of Murray Ridge Ski Hill. The project will see major upgrades to the facilities and trails to improve year?round use of the ski hill. The multi year plan includes developing a potable water source, enhancing the aging ski lodge, replacing the upper mountain cabin with a gazebo and viewing area, and terrain reconditioning for year round use from mountain biking to skiing.
The Fireweed Community Kitchen will develop a five station training kitchen at the College of New Caledonia’s Fort St. James campus. The kitchen will be run by the Fireweed Collective Society to provide employable skills training for women accessing the society’s outreach and safe house programs. The College will also be offering Culinary Arts, Camp Cook and other college level courses in the new industrial style kitchen that can serve as a base for cottage industry food processing and catering services.
Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce Manager Mindy Thompson said the downtown revitalization and ski hill projects will help local businesses hard hit by the recent downturn in the forest sector.
“We think it’ll have a huge impact,” Thompson said. “We wanted to create a vision. We have a vision of downtown with beautiful murals… not only for business development and tourism, but for the locals as well.”
Currently many tourists who come to the town to tour the Fort St. James National Historic Site don’t spend time in Fort St. James itself, she said. “A lot of people come in… and then leave because there is nothing to see or do,” Thompson said.
The Embracing Our Roots program will provide incentives for downtown businesses to upgrade their buildings and create a series of building murals depicting the town’s long history. In addition to physical improvements to beauty the town’s downtown, the program includes training sessions for business owners on how to develop a niche market and capitalize on tourism.
“The downtown core does need a facelift,” Thompson said. “With our ski hill, Fort St. James does have a little bit of everything – and I don’t think a lot people know that.”
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About Northern Development
Northern Development Initiative Trust is an independent regional economic development corporation focused on stimulating economic growth and job creation in central and northern British Columbia. Over $48 million in funding has been committed to 247 projects with a total project value of over $275 million.
Chief Executive Officer