May 2022 - Newsletter

In this issue

On May 7, the District of Lillooet celebrated the completion of the East Lillooet Internment Memorial Garden, 17 months after Northern Development approved a $30,000 Community Places grant to assist with the $57,000 budget.

The 12-person volunteer construction team was led by Louis Horii and Bruce Tasaka, two 84-year-old men who were both interned when they were children. Other volunteers were members of internee families or descendants of people who had been interned.

This project is a meaningful way to honour the Japanese Canadian internees and to give recognition to the historical importance of the local site. The addition of distinctly Japanese features creates a destination heritage site that will be the anchor for the other two Japanese Canadian historic sites in Lillooet – the Historic Miyazaki House and the Forbidden Bridge.

To help commemorate the project’s completion, Northern Development contracted a local photographer to capture the day. See some of the photos below:

Grant funding for the East Lillooet Internment Memorial Garden was contributed through Northern Development’s Community Places program. Introduced in September 2020, this was the fifth project to be approved through the fund.

All images: WLFN

At the most recent Northern Development Board Meeting, Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) was approved for a $300,000 Economic Infrastructure grant to support the construction of The Osprey Nest. The new, multi-use building will complement the assets already established on WLFN IR#6, including the Unity Cannabis retail store and the Sugar Cane Cannabis farm-to-gate micro-cultivation facility.

The Osprey Nest aligns with numerous principles in WLFN’s comprehensive community plan, including the creation of employment and opportunities for members, building relationships with surrounding communities and establishing sustainable forms of long-term revenue.

“This innovative project demonstrates our ongoing commitment of renewed investment within WLFN reserve lands, the City of Williams Lake, and the greater Cariboo Regional District,” said WLFN Chief Willie Sellars. “The Osprey Nest is yet another exciting example of the Williams Lake First Nation taking additional steps along our economic development journey. This project will uphold the high standard of development that WLFN has championed in recent years, joining other state-of-the-art WLFN projects. On behalf of WLFN’s Council and administration, I commend NDIT for their continued support of Indigenous-led projects throughout our region.”

A few weeks after the funding was approved, WLFN broke ground at The Osprey Nest site near downtown Williams Lake. The two-story building will feature a restaurant/café space on the main floor with a 1,000-square foot lakefront patio, which will feature gas heaters, making them usable in three seasons. On the second floor, four self-contained, modern lofts will be built, overlooking the lake with through 18 feet of glass windows. Each loft will include a kitchen and gathering area, with a sleeping area and washroom located on the second-floor mezzanine.

The entire building will be designed to modern accessibility standards, with the second-floor lofts, rooftop patio and restaurant mezzanine being accessible by elevator. The washrooms and other first-floor amenities will also be universally accessible. The accessibility design will create options and opportunities for those with mobility challenges that may not exist in many other area buildings.

“The Osprey Nest is part of WLFN’s strategy to redefine the waterfront in the vicinity of downtown Williams Lake,” said Kirk Dressler, WLFN Director of Legal and Corporate Services. “We envision more spaces for gathering, more multi-family buildings, and connectivity to key recreation assets like Scout Island. There are very few places, outside of private residences, where people have unencumbered views of Williams Lake and access to the foreshore. The Osprey Nest will be an asset that we can use to attract locum physicians, teachers and others who are seeking quality accommodation within easy striking distance of other amenities. The opportunities for long term employment in the restaurant space and in the management, maintenance and marketing of the development are also exciting. This is especially true for status Indigenous people, who can realize the benefit of working on reserve lands.”

Creating a new restaurant and gathering space in Williams Lake will create new jobs in the local economy and provide additional opportunities for event hosting in the community. The four lofts will help fill the local need for quality short to mid-term accommodations for working professionals visiting Williams Lake.

All photos: Shifting Mosaics Consulting

In 2020, Shifting Mosaics Consulting, an ecological consulting company based in Fort Nelson, received a $21,250 rebate through Northern Development’s Small Business Recovery Consulting Rebate. The rebate was used to increase operational efficiency, develop marketing strategies and implement technology to benefit and grow their business.

The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic added to existing hardship brought about a few years earlier by the economic downturn in Fort Nelson. These difficulties led the company to seek work far from home, in the territories, Alberta and elsewhere.

“I’m not too sure if it can be understood how much of a positive impact your program has made on my company, my crew and I,” said Dr. Sonja Leverkus, owner and senior ecosystem scientist, Shifting Mosaics Consulting. “We just finished the most successful year I’ve ever had and it was during a global pandemic. All of our COVID tracking is online and other companies sought out our safety and health support because we were so advanced on our work which was made possible through the digitization work that was done with funding from your program – a complete new market for me to be in – health/safety!”

Shifting Mosaics worked with a consultant, who provided a series of deliverables across six key areas, with a focus on the company’s digital presence and use of technology. The Consulting Rebate project was specifically designed to help the business become a more credible service provider in northeastern B.C. and to avoid losing work to companies from other parts of B.C. and beyond.

“I cannot express how much of a difference this program has made to both of my companies and my team,” said Leverkus. “We have continually evolved our websites to the point where I have included two new positions and we added an Indigenous tab recently to our website to reflect the majority of my team.”

The rebate allowed Shifting Mosaics Consulting to grow their team and contribute indirectly to the local economy through their employees investing into themselves by purchasing chain saws, home furniture and providing for their families to celebrate holidays and other significant events.

Northern Development staff are in the midst of travelling over 4,900 highway kilometres throughout the Trust’s service region to gather insights into long distance transportation needs and services in Northern B.C. What is learned during this time will be used in developing the Request for Proposals for long haul transportation services through the Northern Passenger Transportation Service fund.

Two staff members have already travelled through B.C.’s northwest and northeast, with public consultations taking place in Fort Nelson, Lower Post, Dease Lake, Gitlaxt’aamix (formerly known as New Aiyansh) and Prince Rupert. In June, they will travel to Anahim Lake, Bella Coola and the Bridge River Valley.

The fund aims to support transportation services that connect people to regional centres and/or provide long-distance connections to support labour mobility, access to education and training, promoting maintenance of contact with family and friends and access to health services. It follows the Northern Community Shuttle Program, which was administered through the same fund earlier in 2022.

The funding is available through the Province of B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and is administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust, who recognize the continued challenges northerners face accessing safe, reliable transportation options. The Northern Passenger Transportation Service is a successor to the Ministry’s Highway 16 Community Transportation Grant Program, which provided $2.6 million to 12 community transportation services.

As we say hello to the summer, we are also saying farewell to Derek Baker who has been our Director of Economic Development for the past five years. Derek was instrumental in creating our new Community Development programs from Trust 2020 and he will be greatly missed. We wish him tremendous success in his new position with Pacific Economic Development Canada.

Derek Baker.

To streamline our processes, we have consolidated the Community Development and Business Development programs into a single department. This will allow the Trust to better support the unique facets of economic development in each community across our region.

Felicia Magee, our former Director of Business Development is now the Director of Economic Development and working with her are:

Jordan Hammond – Manager, Economic Development. Jordan is the contact for community and business development programs in the Cariboo-Chilcotin/Lillooet and Northwest regions

Ana Peasgood – Manager, Economic Development. Ana is the contact for community and business development programs in the Northeast and Prince George regions

Alanna Le Cerf – Internships Program Manager

This allows Northern Development staff to make stronger connections in each region and better understand the challenges a community may be facing and help identify opportunities where potential projects may be aligned with our funding in both the public and private sectors.

In May, Northern Development’s board of directors met for a regular meeting and approved funding for six projects. Read the May 12 news release to learn about each of the approved projects and hear from some of the recipients: