January 2020 - Newsletter

In this issue

Trio of talented professionals round out the Trust’s team

Christine Gagne is a familiar face to the Trust as she previously worked in the office as Corporate Services Coordinator before returning in 2020 as Partner Programs Manager. In this role, Christine is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of Northern Development’s partner programs, including BC Hydro GO Fund, BC Hydro Peace Agricultural Compensation Fund and Connecting BC.

Ana Peasgood has a passion for rural B.C. having grown up in McBride and having lived in 100 Mile House, Fort Nelson, Terrace and Chetwynd before moving to Prince George in 2018. For more than two decades, Ana has supported northern communities through professional and volunteer roles in the natural resource, public service and non-profit sectors prior to joining Northern Development as Business Development Coordinator.

Darrin Rigo is Internships Program Manager, a newly created position focused on growing the Trust’s three internship programs and building capacity for Northern B.C. communities. Darrin was born and raised in Terrace before moving to Prince George to graduate from UNBC. Darrin joins Northern Development with a range of experience in post-secondary housing program development and student recruitment, as well as digital and media marketing.

Eliza Doyle performs at Songs and Stories around the Firepit during Coldsnap 2020. All photo credit: Northern Development

Coldsnap music festival warms up Northern B.C.

Since the launch of Northern Development’s Fabulous Festivals and Events program in fall 2015, Prince George Folkfest Society has successfully applied to the grant program five times to support their annual music festival, Coldsnap – the Prince George winter music festival. Each year, approximately 3,000 people attend evening concerts and free workshops during the end of January.

“Coldsnap is an annual live music festival and community outreach series that takes place over nine days and nights each winter at various venues in Prince George,” explained Sue Judge, Artistic/Executive Director of Coldsnap. The evening concerts are always well-attended and frequently sellout. The interactive outreach events strive to bring music and art to segments of the community that are not included or have limited access to such events and engage youth in meaningful and creative ways.”

In their first application submitted to the Trust in 2015, Prince George Folkfest Society identified that it was their long-term goal to have enough funds to fairly compensate service providers (such as sound technicians and graphic designers), rather than heavily relying on in-kind donations of services each year.

These goals were partially realized during Coldsnap 2018, when, for the first time ever, the Prince George Folkfest Society was able to pay a technical producer for a three-month contract to handle the technical aspects of presenting the festival. Prior to this, all the work was done by a dedicated volunteer. Hiring a professional contractor benefits volunteers by providing them with festival-style and quality sound and lights production learning opportunities and experience.

“As organizers of a high-caliber, artistic annual event, Prince George Folkfest Society deeply appreciates the approximate 3,000 hours of volunteering done by 100 volunteers and the in-kind partnerships we have with businesses” said Judge. “At the same time, we know people’s skills are valuable and we’re grateful for grants, such as the one from Northern Development, that assist us to financially compensate certain key roles in the festival organisation, as well as fairly pay for other services.”

Coldsnap is a unique cultural event that brightens the dark days of winter in B.C.’s north. The annual festival attracts musicians from around the world to Northern B.C. for memorable performances in a variety of genres. Beyond the concerts, Coldsnap is also a series of free workshops, making music accessible to everyone.

Since 2015, Northern Development has been supporting extraordinary festivals and events throughout central and northern B.C. to grow events that attract visitors and contribute to service sector revenues in the local economy. To date, the Trust has approved $20,000 in funding to Prince George Folkfest Society to help organizers deliver a quality event for both attendees, performers and the community.

Curling Canada’s tweet shows Mr. PG holding a curling broom in celebration of the city hosting the 2020 World Women’s Curling Championship.

Prince George prepares to host the 2020 World Women’s Curling Championship

January 2020 – Prince George is going to have a full house from March 14-22, 2020 as the city hosts the 2020 World Women’s Curling Championship. The event will draw 13 of the world’s best women’s curling teams from the World Curling Federation’s Americas, European and Pacific-Asia zones to Northern B.C., each trying to sweep away the competition and gain qualification points for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

“We are thrilled to host this premier event, and for the opportunity to showcase our community on the international stage,” said Mayor Lyn Hall of Prince George at the announcement. “Thank you to the World Curling Federation and Curling Canada for recognizing that Prince George is an accomplished host city with world-class venues, volunteers and experiences for athletes. We are excited to be a part of the global curling community and we look forward to hosting the world’s best women curlers.”

The international championship will be held in Prince George’s CN Centre, a facility that has received $610,00 in funding from Northern Development: $520,000 as a no-interest loan and $90,000 in non-repayable grants. These investments helped cover the costs associated with various upgrades between 2006 and 2017, including replacing the centre-ice display system in 2006 to the first of its kind in central and northern B.C. (it has since been upgraded again); upgrading the ice plant condenser, resulting in higher quality ice with a reduced environmental impact; and flooring and seating upgrades.

“We’re proud to be given this privilege of hosting the best women’s curling teams in the world next year,” said Glen Mikkelsen, vice-chair of the Prince George Host Committee. “The CN Centre is a world-class facility that will give these athlete a perfect setting for them to showcase their immense talent, and we’ll do everything we can as a host committee to ensure their trip to Prince George is memorable, on and off the ice.”

Regular improvements to facilities makes the community better equipped to host competitions and up-to-date spaces are appealing to those deciding on where to award championships, such as the 2020 World Women’s Curling Championship. This event is expected to have a $5 million economic impact in Prince George.

Grant funding for upgrades to the CN Centre came from the Trust’s Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program. In 2019, this funding program supported 185 projects in the Prince George region with more than $4.5 million. Local governments, First Nations and non-profits are eligible to receive up to $30,000 in grant funding to a maximum of 70 per cent of the eligible project budget.

Indoor playground equipment at North Peace SuperPark.
All photos: North Peace SuperPark

New equipment at North Peace SuperPark ensures inclusive play all year

Since 2013, North Peace SuperPark Society has been advocating for an indoor play facility in B.C.’s Peace Region and in 2018 this dream was realized in two steps: first with the leasing of a spacious location in Fort St. John and second with the installation of quality indoor play equipment.

Shortly after the facility’s opening in their 3,500 square-foot location, North Peace SuperPark Society successfully applied for a $50,000 grant through Northern Development’s Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program.

“We had a challenging time getting funding to open a facility, so we decided to jump in with both feet and trust that accessible indoor play meant as much to the community as it did to our board of directors,” said Jaandi Roemer, executive director of North Peace SuperPark. “Once we opened our facility in the summer of 2018, we could apply for more financial support, like the $50,000 grant from Northern Development. That investment made all the difference in us being able to furnish the space with quality play pieces for children of all abilities to enjoy throughout the year.”

With a mission to bring the community together and support child development through fun, safe and inclusive play all year, the society needed financial support to help fulfill its goals. Northern Development’s $50,000 commitment made up a significant portion of the $71,676 project that saw the installation of an indoor bouldering wall, construction of a cedar play structure and a hideaway reading hut.

“Seeing and hearing children playing in our space is so fulfilling,” Roemer continued. “Providing families with the opportunity to freely play 12 months a year is building children’s strengths, increasing their inquisitiveness and creating relationships. We’re pleased to be a destination that families see value in and we’re very excited of the gem that it has become in our community.”

Community members indeed see value in the SuperPark, with membership rocketing from five families to more than 600 in less than two years.

Funding for the play equipment came from Northern Development’s Community Halls and Recreation Facilities grant program. This funding program aims to help organizations improve, expand or develop facilities in order to increase the quality of life for residents and increase tourism revenues. It is evident that the Trust’s grant to North Peace SuperPark Society is achieving these goals, as the SuperPark held many events, from glow Nerf wars to fundraisers, 2019.

Indoor rock climbing wall.

Rainbow over some of Splitrock Environmental Sekw’el’was’s greenhouses. All photo credit: Splitrock Environmental Sekw’el’was

Splitrock Environmental Sekw’el’was leverages rebate to build professional e-commerce website

For more than two years, Northern Development offered a rebate program to businesses that were negatively impacted by the wildfires that burned in its Cariboo-Chilcotin/Lillooet region in 2017 and 2018. In late 2019, the Trust committed nearly $15,000 to Splitrock Environmental Sekw’el’was, a St’at’imc-owned business that specializes in environmental services, ethnobotanical products and nursery plants, to develop an e-commerce website.

“Splitrock Environmental Sek’wel’was is a company that is passionate about protecting our environment and promoting environmental awareness,” said Shauni McDonald, office administrator with Split Rock Environmental Sek’we’was. “Within that past few years Splitrock has felt the negative impacts of wildfires that surrounded our area when our revenue was unexpectedly reduced due to road closures and smoke. After this unexpected drawback we are ready to move forward stronger than before. To strengthen and diversify our business, we are launching an e-commerce website to allow more people to order our ethnobotanical products and learn more about the environmental services we offer. This launch in being made easier by Northern Development’s support. Stay tuned for our new and enhanced website.”

Developing e-commerce websites have proven popular to businesses looking to diversify and grow income streams following the wildfires. For Splitrock Environmental Sekw’el’was, this new platform will allow them to showcase and sell their products to a larger audience, resulting in an increase in sales and job opportunities. The online option also facilitates connections with potential and existing customers when access to their physical location may be limited due to road closures or other unforeseen circumstances.

“We’re pleased to be supporting Splitrock Environmental Sekw’el’was as they seek new ways to grow and sustain the business,” said Felicia Magee, director of business development with Northern Development. “Working with a professional consultant to curate a specialized e-commerce website is a valuable investment that will generate revenue and awareness for years to come.”

Chief Michelle Edwards, of Sekw’el’was – Cayoose Creek, preparing to plant.

Funding for this project comes from Northern Development’s Competitiveness Consulting Wildfire Recovery Rebate which ended December 31, 2019. This program offered resources to businesses that were impacted by wildfires by providing a rebate to help cover the cost of hiring a consultant to assist with business recovery efforts. Up to 75 per cent, to a maximum of $15,000, of costs associated with hiring a professional consultant could be recovered. Small- and medium-sized businesses can still receive financial rebates from Northern Development through the Competitiveness Consulting Rebate and the Forestry Affected Business Consulting Rebate.