of funds committed to projects in 2021
project applications approved in 2021
Established in 2014, the Prince Rupert Gymnastics Association (PRGA) has vaulted to 300 members and has earned multiple provincial-level accomplishments. To expand their program offerings and enhance economic benefits for the region, PRGA recognized a need to move to a larger facility within the community. Subsequently, they secured a lease for 12,000 square feet in a warehouse beside Rushbrook Public Dock in Prince Rupert.
To make the new space suitable for competitive teams, PRGA successfully applied for a $250,000 Economic Diversification Infrastructure grant in 2020 to provide a springboard to start renovation momentum. This project was recently completed and Northern Development disbursed the final grant amount in February 2022. Now, Prince Rupert has the most modern and comprehensive gymnastics facility in northwest B.C.
“We are beyond excited about our new facility! We have just finished hosting our first gymnastics meet here in Prince Rupert that attracted over 50 athletes from around the North and brought tourism dollars to the community,” said Jackie Touchet, president, PRGA. “We are launching into our Spring session that will run until the end of June and are looking forward to hosting Summer Camps. Without the funding from NDIT, this vision and dream would not have been possible.”
The project enhances community recreation options for people of all ages and abilities throughout the year and provides an indoor space for physical activity, a reprieve from Prince Rupert’s wet climate. The new facility supports increased coaching staff, allowing PRGA to offer a wider spectrum of programing,for people with physical and developmental disabilities, summer camps for students and the development of a new male competitive team.
Relocating the PRGA to the Rushbrook Warehouse is the first step in revitalizing a portion of the industrial waterfront and creating a recreational hub. Long term, the goal is to develop a multi-use area that will attract local and visiting recreational users. Other portions of the warehouse can be developed for other activities.
The modern, well-equipped space will support economic diversification in Prince Rupert through competition hosting and training visits from other gymnastics clubs in the region, including Smithers, Kitimat and Terrace. Competitions are hosted in winter when tourism businesses are usually experiencing their off-season. PRGA is now the only club in northwest B.C. that can house every gymnastics event without having to rearrange equipment.
PRGA’s facility also creates new employment within the club. At least one more full-time coach, two part-time coaches and a summer camp counsellor/couch will be hired. The new staffing capacity will allow them to run simultaneous classes, further growing their membership and helping those who are currently on program wait lists.
Funding came through the Trust’s former Economic Diversification Infrastructure program. Under the current funding programs, which were rolled out in September 2020, this project would have received funding from the Recreation Infrastructure program.
The new Quesnel Bike Park will host something for all ages from a beginner-friendly skills park to a modern, progressive jump park. There will also be a rubberized strider bike area and the Flow Trail behind the District Arts and Recreation Centre will up updated to an adaptive trail, capable of welcoming bikers on three or four-wheeled mountain bikes.
Complementing the new trails, the City of Quesnel is also purchasing a small fleet of rental bikes to allow people without their own bikes to try the sport and to generate a small amount of revenue.
“This project will help us achieve our objective of providing top-quality outdoor recreation amenities to every one of our community members, increasing their health and wellbeing,” said Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson. “This amenity will also contribute to increasing resident attraction and trail tourism to the area.”
The Quesnel Bike Park will provide a safe place to for people interested in mountain biking to try the sport and develop skills before visiting trails. It will also be a destination for those looking to try new tricks and techniques in a controlled and familiar environment. For families, the rubberized kids’ zone will be an ideal, low-risk area to encourage children to become familiar with biking.
As part of the City of Quesnel’s Economic Development Transition Strategy, developing trail tourism and increasing recreation options is essential to support the transition away from being a forestry-dependent community. Concurrently, the City of Quesnel is making progress with its comprehensive trail development strategy, which includes improving the adjacent West Fraser Timber Park Trails. Future improvements in the area will see this trail network connected to the new bike park with an accessible trail.
Northern Development is investing $144,111 into this $291,152 project through a Recreation Infrastructure grant. This is the second such grant that the City of Quesnel was approved for in 2021, the other being $300,000 for the construction of the Quesnel RV Park and Campground.
The annual Summer Cruise, hosted by Mile Zero Car Cruisers Club, is springing back to life in 2022 after two dormant years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated health orders. Between 2016 and 2019, Northern Development has invested $15,000 into the annual car celebration through the Fabulous Festivals and Events program.
The $5,000 grant in 2019 was used to increase their marketing efforts and reach outlying areas via weekly advertisements in local/area newspapers and radio advertisements. This bolstered advertising budget was effective, and the Mile Zero Car Cruisers Club had a record-breaking weekend with 531 registered participants for the Sunday car show. On Saturday, they held the 2nd Annual Burnout Competition which attracted over 1,000 spectators to watch 70 cars smoke their tires.
“This grant allowed us to improve the overall cruise experience,” said Dean Good, president, Mile Zero Cruisers Car Club. “It extended our reach much further and enabled us to have the ability to provide more specialized services for the entire weekend by freeing up dollars that would normally be spent on promoting the show. It helped us showcase what the club has done over the past 25 years and really put on one unforgettable show for our 25th Anniversary Cruise.”
The weekend event is a significant draw for car enthusiasts from Canada and the United States, with people from more than 50 communities migrating to Dawson Creek for the show and its festivities. Organizers estimate that approximately 5,000 people attended the free car show, with 65 per cent of attendees coming from outside of Dawson Creek. As a result, this event stimulates the local economy through the sales of lodging, food, gas and other supplies to visitors.
Northern Development supports this event, and other festivals in its service region, through the Fabulous Festivals and Events grant program. Funding is available to registered non-profit organizations who host unique festivals and events that contribute to local service sector revenues and promote Northern B.C. as a tourism destination. Grant applications to this fund are continuously accepted and funding is available for 2022 events.
On May 4, 2020, Northern Development launched the Regional Business Liaison (RBL) program, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on businesses. By June 18, 11 applications were approved, providing boots on the ground capacity to support business recovery while working closely with community partners.
“This program provided critical resources to Community Futures Fraser-Fort George to be on the ground in communities and connecting with businesses and organizations to understand the significant challenges that business owners faced throughout the pandemic,” said Susan Stearns, general manager, Community Futures Development Corporation Fraser-Fort George.
In 2021, the program was extended with support from the Province of BC through Rural Business and Community Recovery funding. Since 2020, approximately 3,200 businesses in Northern B.C. have engaged with a regional business liaison.
“The Northern Development program has been extremely valuable to businesses by providing a local, easily accessible resource to businesses during this crisis. We were able to bring over $4.7 million of grants and financial support into our community and preserved over 75 jobs,” wrote Ellen Gross, RBL, Community Futures Development Corporation North Cariboo.
Community Futures offices, Chambers of Commerce and one regional district were all approved in June 2020 through the RBL program. Northern Development committed to funding 100 per cent of eligible expenses up to $75,000 per position.
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