Situated on the west edge of the District of Mackenzie between the community and Morfee Lakes is Little Mac Ski Hill, a community-operated ski hill that has provided residents and visitors with affordable and easily accessible skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing opportunities for many years. The family-friendly hill adds to the community’s attractiveness and retention of long-term residents. The facility has a 90 metre vertical that is accessed by a tow lift with the longest run stretching more than 200 metres.
Over the years, Northern Development has approved more than $90,000 for upgrades and improvements at the facility. The first investment was approved by Northern Development in June 2014 with a $27,455 grant to assist on a $70,517 project that included the installation of lights for night skiing and equipment for freestyle training. Subsequent projects included the development of mountain biking trails, acquisition of a snow groomer in 2019, chalet upgrades and installation of terrain park features and fencing.
“Little Mac Ski Hill is a cornerstone of Mackenzie’s winter recreation scene,” said Mackenzie Mayor Joan Atkinson. “Having a safe, easily-accessible place for people of all ages to gather during the dark winter months for physical activity and fresh air contributes greatly to our quality of life. Multiple investments from Northern Development over the years has supported the District of Mackenzie as they seek to improve the facility and offer opportunities to residents.”
In 2019, Northern Development approved a $15,000 grant through the former Community Halls and Recreation Facilities grant program to assist with the costs of the District of Mackenzie acquiring a snow groomer for Little Mac Ski Hill and other community facilities. In 2018, the previous snow groomer was decommissioned and Little Mac Ski Hill was closed for the season. The purchase of a new snow groomer, along with comprehensive community feedback sessions and strategy development, allowed the ski hill to re-open last season and again in 2021, this year with an extra day of skiing each week.
“As we continue to weather economic disruptions and uncertainty, Little Mac Ski Hill is a beacon of hope,” continued Mayor Atkinson. “The District of Mackenzie is currently working on two projects that Northern Development has committed funding for. These projects are creating jobs and improved recreation opportunities for locals. In the future the upgrades will attract travelers to Mackenzie to enjoy the facility in all season and generate revenue for our local businesses.”
Funding for all the Little Mac Ski Hill projects came from Northern Development’s former Community Halls and Recreation Facilities funding program. Under the Trust’s new suite of programs, the projects would be eligible for funding through the new Recreation Infrastructure program.
In March 2020, the evolving COVID-19 pandemic led to the temporary closure of Bugwood Coffee’s café operations on Main Street, Smithers. Along with the closure of their own storefront, many of the cafes that Bugwood Coffee supplied with roasted coffee products also closed. This resulted in reduced revenue and a realization that a diversified customer base was necessary to allow Bugwood Coffee to sustain themselves during the pandemic. They identified an opportunity in serving industrial customers, such as mines and camps, as they continued to need beverage supplies during the pandemic.
In June 2020 Bugwood Coffee applied for a $6,800 rebate through Northern Development’s Small Business Recovery (SBR) Consulting Rebate. Nine days later, the Trust’s business development team approved the application and shortly after Bugwood Coffee began working with a consultant.
“Working with our consultant over six months re-inspired my passion for business and now I’m a resilient entrepreneur again,” said Nick Meyer, founder and president, Bugwood Coffee. “When we closed our café in March, we identified an opportunity that existed in serving industrial customers. Working with our consultant has provided us with a business plan and marketing assets to help make this opportunity a reality for our business.”
The consultant designed a marketing strategy specifically for attracting industrial clients. Already, Bugwood Coffee has benefited from increased demand for their roasting operations resulting in increased revenue. Bugwood Coffee has already acquired a larger coffee roaster which allows them to successfully meet the needs of their new clients. Along with this, they have created a new full-time position on their team for a roaster.
Funding for this consulting project came through Northern Development’s Small Business Recovery Consulting Rebate. This program was launched in April 2020 to support small and medium sized businesses that are impacted by the economic downturn. Through the program, businesses in a broad range of industries can apply for rebates of up to 85 per cent, to a maximum of $25,000, of an eligible project’s budget.
Two weeks ago, the Shamrock Tube Run opened for the 2021 season, their fifth consecutive season after their grand opening in January 2017. The outdoor facility offers tubers 400 feet of sliding potential in two different runs accessed by a magic carpet lift. The grand opening celebration in 2017 was just six months after Northern Development approved a $60,000 grant through its former Community Halls and Recreation Facilities funding program for the $193,593 project.
“The addition of the tube run with magic carpet lift has been an excellent and welcome addition to the Barkerville community,” said Kate Cox, chief executive officer, Barkerville Historic Town and Park. “By adding this unique attraction, we have been able to expand our operating season, increase our revenue, attract more people to the historic site and support the local and regional economy. Over the past four years we have welcomed thousands of people during the winter months and provided guests with another way to enjoy the snowy beauty of the Cariboo.”
The tubing infrastructure helps attract visitors to the historic site and increases business for local accommodations, restaurants, service providers and other establishments during the quieter winter months. In the first season of operations, four new permanent seasonal positions were created directly from the completed project and Barkerville welcomed more than 5,000 visitors to the historic site during the off-season. These numbers climbed in the following years, with 6,753 people visiting in 2017 and 8,576 in 2018.
“Located at the gateway to our Cariboo Mountains backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling destination, the Shamrock Tube run offers a fun and accessible family-friendly outdoor activity,” explained Cox. “As part of a symbiotic and diversified system that also includes the Barkerville Cafe and our Barkerville Cottages, a winter weekend can now include joyful sliding, chili cheese dogs eaten in front of fire pits, and relaxed walks through Barkerville’s historic zone while enjoying hot beverages. We are grateful to NDIT for helping us make these offerings a reality.”
Funding for this project was approved through the Trust’s Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program. In September 2020, Northern Development announced new community funding programs through Trust 2020. Now, it would be eligible for funding through the new Recreation Infrastructure program. The new funding program provides up to $100,000, to a maximum of 70 per cent, for upgrades or repairs to an existing facility or up to $300,000, to a maximum of 50 per cent, for new construction or substantial upgrades to existing facilities. Learn more about the funding program here.
The deadline for recent or soon-to-be post-secondary graduates to apply to Northern Development’s First Nation Government or Local Government Internship programs is February 12, 2021. This is an excellent opportunity for those looking to gain experience working in government after recently completing their studies.
“My participation with the Northern Development Local Government Internship has made the shift from being a student to working professional a seamless transition,” said Ethan Fredeen, 2020 local government intern with the District of Fort St. James. “I have always had an interest in policy analysis and land use planning. I thought that the internship program would be an excellent first step after graduation. Since the start of my placement in Fort St. James, I have had the opportunity through my mentor to participate in a wide array of projects that fall under the scope of land use planning and policy analysis.”
Interns receive a $45,000 salary and may be eligible for a housing allowance up to $10,000. They also have an opportunity to pursue professional development opportunities that have been identified by the mentor and intern as beneficial to the intern’s career.
Already, governments interested in hosting an intern in 2021 have applied to Northern Development and their applications are being thoroughly reviewed and evaluated. The selection process for host governments considers numerous factors, included the proposed mentor’s experience and the suggested work plan. Learn more about Northern Development’s two internship programs at northerndevelopment.bc.ca/internships/.
The 18th annual BC Natural Resources Forum is being held virtually from January 26-28, 2021. According to event organizers, the three-day program will be focused on building and maintaining a resilient natural resource sector. Northern Development is looking forward to attending the event and hosting its first ever virtual exhibitor booth.
While in-person mingling is not possible this year, attendees can still chat with Northern Development staff during two one-hour Zoom breakout sessions on Tuesday, January 26 and Wednesday, January 27.
12:30 – 1:30pm Tuesday, January 26: Felicia Magee, director of business development
12:30 – 1:30pm Wednesday, January 27: Derek Baker, director of economic development
These are great opportunities to touch base with the Northern Development team, learn what was accomplished in 2020 and how the Trust can support your organization in 2021 and beyond. For those attending the BC Natural Resources Forum, find Northern Development’s booth in the Exhibitor section.
Felicia Magee, director of businesses development for Northern Development along with Susan Mowbray, partner, consulting for MNP will provide an overview of Northern B.C.’s economy during the 2021 #TrueNorth Business Development Forum on Monday, January 25. This will be the final presentation of the half-day virtual event held by the Prince George Chamber of Commerce.
Register here on event page to participate in the forum which focuses on building a more resilient and prosperous Northern B.C.
Once again, Northern Development has renewed its partnership with Small Business BC to provide businesses in its service region with free access to unlimited webinars from Small Business BC. Love Northern BC businesses, Community Futures’ clients and referred Northern Development clients can receive complementary access. This agreement is in place until January 31, 2022.
In 2020, more than 230 access codes were used by eligible businesses throughout Northern B.C. to access quality webinars led by expert presenters. This is a 14 per cent increase in webinar registration from the prior year. Webinars about financial planning were very popular with clients, along with marketing webinars.
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