September 2021 - Newsletter

In this issue

The NALS team standing by their sign on the University of Northern BC campus.
Photo: NALS

In July 2021, Northern Analytical Laboratory Services (NALS) was recommended for the coveted ISO 17025 accreditation from the Standards Council of Canada after successfully completing the lab audit process. This certification enables laboratories to demonstrate that they operate competently and generate valid results, promoting confidence in their work. Two months prior, NALS was accredited by the B.C. Provincial Health Officer as a Water Microbiology Testing Laboratory for E.coli and coliforms.

To expedite achieving this goal, NALS applied to Northern Development’s Competitiveness Consulting Rebate (CCR) in July 2019. In August they were approved for a $30,000 rebate which allowed them to hire a Quality Assurance Officer (QAO) to bring their operations in line with ISO 17025 standards and to complete the accreditation process.

“Without Northern Development, the ISO 17025 accreditation certainly would not have happened as quickly as it did,” said Dr. Hossein Kazemian, head, NALS. “Being an accredited analysis facility will lead to more lucrative contracts and partnerships with universities, government regulatory organizations and industry. Additional revenue will allow us to hire more researchers, analysts and students to develop exciting value-added projects and services that will benefit not only the UNBC community, but the local and global economy as well.”

As a quality-driven laboratory in the North, for the North, NALS realized the benefits and cost-saving that their accreditation can provide to existing and future clients.

The NALS team.
Photo: NALS

Prior to earning the ISO 17025 accreditation, much of Northern B.C.’s analytical testing needs that required an accredited lab would either go unserviced or be sent to southern B.C. or Alberta. Both of these options include challenges as omitting testing leaves clients uncertain about their operations or regulatory obligations. Shipping samples farther away forces clients to incur additional costs, wait longer for results and the delays could sacrifice sample integrity.

Support for this project was demonstrated through letters of support from Northern Health, the City of Prince George and Chu Cho Environmental. These organizations strongly voiced their support, indicating that the successful project will fill a substantive void in the accessibility of accredited laboratories in Northern B.C.

Beyond supporting governments, industry and other organizations, having an ISO 17025 accredited facility in Northern B.C. fulfills a recommendation in the 2008 Ombudsman report titled Fit to Drink: Challenges in Providing Safe Drinking Water in British Columbia. The report recommends increasing the number of approved laboratories in areas where water suppliers currently face unreasonable barriers to the cost-effective and timely transportation of water samples for bacteriological analysis.

NALS learned about CCR at an Industry Connect: Innovation and Challenges Showcase event that was held in Prince George in November 2018 by Innovate BC and Innovation Central Society. Learn more about the CCR program on Northern Development’s website.

September 17, 2021 marked one year since Northern Development launched Trust 2020, which introduced a suite of six new community development programs alongside refreshed branding, a new website and online application capabilities.

In the 12 months since the programs have been available to local governments, First Nation governments and non-profits in the Trust’s service region, Northern Development staff have received 84 eligible applications for the new programs, representing a total project value of nearly $35 million. So far, Northern Development has committed more than $8 million to community development projects that have been approved through the six new funding programs.

Read the Trust 2020 press release to learn more about the new programs and other initiatives that were introduced last year.

The exterior of Sudeten Hall.
Photo: South Peace Mile 0 Park Society

Located in Dawson Creek’s historic Walter Wright Pioneer Village, the South Peace Mile 0 Park Society received a $47,670 grant through the Trust’s new Cultural Infrastructure funding program to complete important upgrades to the Sudeten Hall. This gathering place has a rich and unique cultural heritage as it was built by Sudeten refugees fleeing Nazi Germany in the Tupper area. The hall was relocated in 1992 to its current home where it is open to the public as a multipurpose arts and creative space.

The South Peace Mile 0 Park Society used the grant to repair and repaint the hall following damage from accumulated storm water. Now that the project is complete, the hall can resume its place as a hub for arts, culture and versatile rentable space.

This grant allowed us to complete quality upgrades to a unique historic building without financially burdening our society and pulling resources from other parts of the park,” said Alex Reschny, president, South Peace Mile 0 Parks Society. “The Sudeten Hall is well used and highly appreciated by our community and serves as a gathering space for families and an array of user groups. Now they can be assured that they will have a welcoming place for years to come.”

Inside Sudeten Hall.
Photos: South Peace Mile 0 Park Society

Funding for the project was approved on March 19, 2021 and work quickly got underway, with the entire project being completed by July 1. Weeping tile was installed to protect the building from future exterior water damage, cracks from previous water damage were repaired and the interior and exterior of the hall received a fresh coat of paint.

The Cultural Infrastructure grant program was introduced in September 2020 as part of Trust 2020. It supports the creation or improvement of arts, heritage, culture and creative innovation spaces. Local governments, First Nations and non-profits are eligible to apply for up to $300,000 in grant funding.

Lone Wolf Golf Club sign.
All photos: Northern Development

In January 2021, the District of Taylor was approved for a $46,958 grant through Northern Development’s new Recreation Infrastructure funding program. The grant covers 70 per cent of the costs to complete critical upgrades to the clubhouse at Lone Wolf Golf Club, a municipally-owned golf course in B.C.’s northeast.

This renovation project was completed in less than six months and allows the District of Taylor to complete future renovations to expand the facility’s capacity, providing additional benefits to the community and surrounding areas by becoming a modern banquet facility capable of hosting larger events. The completed project also provides a better user experience for golfers by improving accessibility, safety and replacing amenities that were out of order.

“This grant allowed us to refresh a popular recreation facility without fiscally burdening the residents of Taylor,” said Ryan Galay, general manager, Lone Wolf Golf Club. “Each year, more than 30,000 people walk through our doors and now their experience, from the time they come through our new, accessible doors, will be much improved. These and future improvements will make us a desirable location to host events, providing more opportunities for our community to gather and for us to generate additional revenue.”

Many areas of the 25-year-old clubhouse received upgrades, including kitchen equipment, the women’s locker room, new computers for a point of sale system, security system installation and the replacement of  the former heavy wood door with a modern set of glass doors, complete with automaticopeners.

Funding for the Lone Wolf Club clubhouse upgrades came from the Trust’s Recreation Infrastructure program. Introduced in September 2020, this funding program supports community efforts to build or improve many types of recreational infrastructure to encourage resident attraction and retention while also increasing sport tourism opportunities. Eligible applicants can apply for up to $300,000 to a maximum of 50 per cent for new construction and/or substantial upgrades to an existing facility or up to $100,000 to a maximum of 70 per cent of the eligible project budget for upgrades or repairs to an existing facility.

Learn more about the Recreation Infrastructure funding program by clicking here.