Ice skaters in Smithers were out in droves January 12th to attend the grand opening of the town’s new arena.
The project, which cost $4.7 million to build and had been in planning stages for two decades, provides a brand new sheet of ice for winter sport enthusiasts who had previously been challenged to find ice time at the town’s existing 52-year-old arena, located next door.
The new arena features an NHL-sized ice surface and a seating capacity of 350. Northern Development provided a $250,000 grant through its Economic Diversification Infrastructure program to help make the new arena a reality. The program has previously been used to support upgrades at the Terrace Sportsplex and Conference facility, a runway expansion at Prince George Airport and a fuel station for Barkerville and Wells, among other projects.
Additional funding to support the project included $2.35 million in provincial grants, $650,000 from the Town of Smithers, $400,000 from the town land sales reserves, $250,000 from Aquilini Investment Group and Canucks Sport and Entertainment, $100,000 from Pacific Inland Resources and $50,000 from Minor Hockey.
“The Town of Smithers’ ability to crystalize its vision for a new arena that would serve the people of the Bulkley Valley and form partnerships to make it a reality is a fantastic example of the type of teamwork that exemplifies the spirit of northern B.C.,” said Northern Development board director and Village of Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold. “Northern Development is proud to have helped make this project a reality.”
“Turning the dream of a second arena into a well-built community facility took collaboration, dedication and over 20 years of hard work,” said Town of Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach.”We couldn’t have done it without the participation of major funding partners including the Northern Development Initiative Trust.”
• Smithers’ new arena features an NHL-sized ice surface and seating capacity for 350
• Northern Development provided a $250,000 grant from its Economic Diversification Infrastructure program to help make the project a reality
• The new arena alleviates existing ice-time capacity challenges in the community, which in the past decade saw 100% of prime ice time utilized
• The project budget totalled $4.7 million
Northern Development Initiative Trust
Giscome’s elementary school and activity centre set a new standard this month for rural community revitalization projects.
Giscome Elementary and the adjoining East Line Activity Centre opened January 16th to a crowd of 60 people, including Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond, Regional District of Fraser-Fort George Chair Art Kaehn and Northern Development CEO Janine North.
The $1.5 million project was part of the Province’s 2012 plan to renew aging infrastructure in rural B.C., and serves as an example of how multiple organizations can collaborate to build sustainable, multi-purpose infrastructure that strengthens small communities.
Northern Development provided a $250,000 grant through its Economic Diversification Infrastructure program to help build the school’s new East Line Activity Centre.
The activity centre includes a gymnasium, multi-purpose room and kitchen that can be used as a recreation space for students and a gathering space for community events.
The two-classroom modular school allows students in the Upper Fraser area to learn in their own communities instead of travelling up to three and a half hours return by bus to Prince George.
The school’s 26 students attended the grand opening celebrations, which included speeches from the funding partners and presentations from the students.
Giscome Elementary and the East Line Activity Centre are located 40 kilometres east of Prince George in the historic Upper Fraser area, which also includes the communities of Willow River, Longworth, Upper Fraser, Penny and Sinclair Mills.
“I am so proud to attend the Giscome Elementary opening. Seeing this project through its many stages – conception, ground-breaking, construction and now opening – is an exciting achievement for the students, parents and community of Giscome,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Prince George-Valemount MLA.
“The East Line Activity Centre will provide a place for community learning and celebration and will be a benefit to all residents in the area. We congratulate the communities along the East Line for working together to help make this new centre a reality,” said Art Kaehn, Chair, Regional District of Fraser-Fort George and member of Northern Development’s Prince George Regional Advisory Committee.
“This project is an investment in the sustainability of our rural communities. The East Line Activity Centre will be a hub for sports, recreation and community gatherings that will support families in Giscome, Willow River, Longworth, Upper Fraser, Penny and Sinclair Mills. This building will ensure that families in these historic communities will have access to education and a vibrant community centre for years to come,” said Janine North, CEO, Northern Development.
• Giscome Elementary is a two-classroom modular school with an adjoining activity centre that includes a gymnasium, multi-purpose room and kitchen
• The East Line Activity Centre will serve as a recreation and gathering space that will serve families in a number of communities including Giscome, Willow River, Longworth, Upper Fraser, Sinclair Mills and Penny
• Northern Development provided $250,000 to support the development of the East Line Activity Centre
Northern Development Initiative Trust
Northern Development Initiative Trust produced a record year in 2014 for funding announcements and funds disbursed.
In total, the Trust approved $10.5 million in funding for 314 projects last year. This is a staggering increase compared with $5.5 million approved for 209 projects during 2013. The driving force behind the increase in funding approvals last year was Northern Development’s decision to increase the annual grant allocation from 5% to 7%, which built on the success of the decision to combine the regional investment accounts in 2013. Northern Development’s investment portfolio has averaged a 6.8% annual return over the last nine years, including the equity downturn of 2008.
The decision to flow out funds equivalent to the long term average of the capital base, made by the Trust’s board of directors, has meant that a total of $11.4 million in grants were available to local governments, First Nations and non-profit organizations throughout central and northern B.C. in 2014.
A large proportion of the Trust’s funding approvals last year were attributed to 13 approvals for $250,000 grants to various communities under the Trust’s Economic Development Infrastructure program. The Trust approved seven airport-related grants, totalling $1,236,800. These projects include the Mackenzie Airport Improvement Study, the Prince Rupert Airport Improvement, the Northwest Regional Airport Apron Expansion, the Northwest Regional Airport Air Terminal Expansion, the North Peace Airport’s Parking Facilities Expansion, the Anahim Lake Airport Runway Strip Improvements and the North Peace Regional Airport’s Terminal Improvements.
The Trust also supported a variety of smaller-scale projects this year. A $30,000 grant to support the Toosey Indian Band’s initiative to create the ‘Riske Creek School Redevelopment for Trades, Skills and Recreation’, a $30,000 grant to the City of Dawson Creek in an effort to support renovations for the exhibition ground grandstand and $30,000 in funding for the Cariboo Regional District’s Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail Improvement project, to name a few.
In addition to increasing the annual grant allocation, the Trust also saw a significant increase in demand and applications last year to support infrastructure projects throughout the region. The increase in applications, in many cases, is related to the economic boom underway throughout northern B.C. which has placed new pressures on communities and a need for economic development-related infrastructure upgrades.
“Northern British Columbia will continue to be key in driving a strong and growing economy in our province in the years ahead. With a significant opportunity for new projects and job growth, the Northern Development Initiative Trust has a critical role to play in supporting communities and our region with grants that enhance economic development-related infrastructure improvements,” said Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond.
“2014 has been a great year for the Trust, both in terms of the return from our investments that allows for these investments to be made, and the continued response from our communities in developing these important projects,” said Evan Saugstad, Chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust.
Northern Development Initiative Trust
In 2012, Lithium One Imports Ltd., a Prince George granite countertop fabrication company, accessed Northern Development’s Competitiveness Consulting Rebate program to re-orient their business for growth. As part of an expansion, they purchased new equipment and moved their operation to a larger facility to accommodate their growth. The new equipment included a specialized bridge rail saw from India to fabricate granite into counter tops. The bridge saw helped the company increase productivity to fabricate up to 10 kitchen countertops per week instead the previous output of 1.5 per week.
The company used Northern Development’s Competitiveness Consulting Rebate program to help fund the cost to hire a consultant to train their staff on using the granite saw. The program provides a rebate to small and medium sized companies engaged in manufacturing, innovative technologies, resource processing, transportation, distribution and their first line suppliers for outsourced consulting services.
A rebate of up to 50% to a yearly maximum of $30,000 can be recovered for the cost of external business consulting projects. The use of the consultant also meant Lithium One staff were able to develop proper operating and safety procedures for their new equipment. Since then, Lithium One’s customer base has grown dramatically and expanded their market share to include all of northern B.C.
Terry Thiara, Operations Manager of Lithium One Imports Ltd. tells us, “The rebate that we received from Northern Development helped us tremendously. In our expansion we purchased specialized equipment, and went from hand producing everything to a fully automated process. With the Competitiveness Consulting Rebate we were able to access consulting services to learn proper techniques on how to operate the new equipment. We were able to bring in an expert to stay with us for a few months to help train our workers on granite counter fabrication including cutting and quality. Since then, our output has increased significantly, resulting in a five-time revenue increase over three fiscal years.”
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Northern Development Initiative Trust
The Community Revitalization program is an aggressive incentive program that is a partnership between communities and Northern Development that encourages new development and redevelopment in central and northern B.C. This innovative program provides an immediate financial incentive for developers that is significantly more attractive than any revitalization tax exemption program currently available in the region. Check out the video to see how it has generated new investment in downtown Prince George!
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