On February 24, Northern Development’s board of directors met for their regular quarterly meeting and approved over $1.9 million for eight projects through the new Community Development funding programs. This is the largest amount approved at one board meeting for community development projects in recent history.
“These projects are a testament to the hard work and ingenuity of organizations throughout the north to build strong, sustainable communities,” said Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development. “This announcement marks the first set of project approvals through our new suite of community development programs, which were unanimously supported by every local government in the north. A huge thank you goes out to our applicants, regional advisors, board directors and staff for bringing this important milestone to fruition.”
The following proponents were successful in their funding applications:
In August of 2020, the Prince George Tennis Club reconfigured two underused tennis courts into six permanent pickleball courts to better serve the growing pickleball community. The Prince George Tennis Club has seen their membership grow from approximately 20 to 150 members in a just a few years, with nearly 50 per cent of those members being pickleballers.
“Pickleball is rapidly growing in popularity and we wanted to support those who are pursuing this form of recreation by providing tournament-quality courts for the community,” said Tyler Foxcroft, president, Prince George Tennis Club. “Pickleball is an excellent sport for people of all ages and it provides a physical and mental workout while encouraging socializing with other athletes. We’re proud to be supporting the diversifying interests of our members and the larger community with top quality facilities.”
Built to international pickleball standards, the upgraded facility will be able to host sanctioned pickleball events in Prince George, bringing a new type of sport tourism to the community. The project included repairs to perimeter fencing, resurfacing, new court lines, new fences between courts and the installation of permanent pickleball nets.
In addition to providing new sport tourism, the project also contributes to citizen retention, especially for those who are seniors. Foxcroft explains that a lot of pickleballers are snowbirds that winter in warmer climates.
“I quite often heard them talk of how they play five or six days a week while in other communities,” said Foxcroft. “When some of them return home, they refused to play on the temporary and crowded courts that we had before the completion of this project.”
The $78,000 project received a $15,000 grant from Northern Development’s former Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program. They also received a $25,000 grant from a Federal Government program called New Horizon’s for Seniors and the City of Prince George contributed $38,000 towards the court reconfiguration project.
In September 2020, Northern Development welcomed Love Stewart-Cassiar to the Love Northern BC family. Love Northern BC is a shop local program that that provides participating businesses with a unique webpage featuring a custom write-up and images from a professional photoshoot. Additionally, businesses may be included in marketing campaigns, such as Plaid Friday, and they receive unlimited access to webinars through Small Business BC.
“Love Stewart-Cassiar will bring many benefits to independently owned businesses along Highway 37,” said Maggie Hall, economic development officer, Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, and community champion for Love Stewart-Cassiar. “Showcasing businesses on this platform will attract more customers and enhance the visitor experience for those travelling the Stewart-Cassiar highway. It’s challenging to promote such an array of businesses stretching 500 kilometres in northwestern B.C. and Love Northern BC is the perfect tool to tackle the task.”
Near Jade City, Vines and Puppies Hideaway is the first business from the area listed on Love Northern BC. Tucked into serene wilderness, the business offers travelers a cabin or walled tent to rest in while enjoying waterfront views and a mountain backdrop. The off-grid experience is elevated by continental breakfast, a wood fired hot tub and other amenities.
“We’re excited to be the first business on Love Stewart-Cassiar,” said owner Kristy Denne. “Love Northern BC is a great platform for businesses to showcase what we have to offer, and the write-up is amazing. Can’t wait for the photo shoot!”
Last month, Northern Development published its fourth annual State of the North Economic Report. Once again, the report’s release coincided with the BC Natural Resources Forum. The highly-anticipated document indicates the short-term outlook for Northern B.C.’s economy based on independent research from MNP.
“This year’s report is very different from previous reports in that we’ve never had to predict how a pandemic might affect our economy as we move into the future,” said Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust. “However, for Northern B.C., the report does an excellent job of providing valuable economic data that we believe can help inform policy, investment decisions and economic plans.”
News of the new report was well received around B.C., reaching more than three million people via news websites and social media, according to an online listening tool used by the Trust. An article from the Vancouver Sun about the BC Natural Resources Forum, mentioned the report and included a quote from Northern Development’s CEO, Joel McKay. This article reached an estimated 1.6 million people online.
In the north, CKPG News included a story about the State of the North report in their newscast and the video segment accompanies a written article on their website. This coverage includes an on-camera interview with McKay.
Read the report for yourself: https://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/state-of-the-north/
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