Nestled in the northwest corner of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District is Bridge River Valley. The Bridge River Valley Community Association (BRVCA), which serves the nearly 200 full time residents and approximately 400 part-time residents living in Gold Bridge, Bralorne, Tyaughton Area, Marshall Lake and Gun Lakes, has successfully applied for $109,796 for 12 projects since 2013. We took a moment to chat with Jenny, Debbie, and Laurie from BRVCA to learn more about what the Trust’s funding has meant for their communities.
Q: First, can you please share with our readers what life is like in the Bridge River Valley?
A: Located 100 km west of Lillooet, the Bridge River Valley is a unique mountain community comprised of the smaller communities of Gold Bridge, Bralorne, Gun, Tyaughton and Marshall Lakes. With almost 200 hundred full time residents and approximately 400 part-time residents the valley is a close-knit, self-reliant community. The proximity to outdoor activities including world-class mountain biking, hiking, heli-skiing and snowmobiling means that the valley is also popular with visitors looking for pristine wilderness only a few hours’ drive from the Lower Mainland.
Regular community events including fall fairs, bingo luncheons, Canada Day celebrations, community bonfires and Winterfest are always well-attended and give community members a chance to connect with each other and support various community groups. There is a high level of volunteerism for such a small community which is evidenced in the sheer number of committees, social groups and two volunteer fire fighting departments – many of which fall under the umbrella of the Bridge River Valley Community Association.
Q: What are some challenges that residents of the area face? How has Northern Development’s funding helped alleviate these challenges?
A: Distance from regular services such as medical care, shopping, and tradespeople does present its challenges. Residents of the Bridge River Valley rely heavily on the postal service and cartage from Lillooet for supplies, particularly during the winter months. The main route into the valley is Road 40 which can be challenging driving in the winter months in addition to occasional avalanches or mudslides causing road closure.
Funding from Northern Development’s programs has helped to alleviate challenges by increasing awareness of the needs of remote and rural communities, improving community assets and resources, and supports the community’s efforts to grow permanent population for a more self-sustaining area.
Q: BRVCA has received funding from four of the Trust’s funding programs: Community Halls and Recreation Facilities (4), Fabulous Festivals and Events (4), Marketing Initiatives (3) and Capital Investment Analysis (1). Is there a project that received funding from any of these grant programs that really resonates with residents?
A: Every project supported by Northern Development’s grant programs resonates with residents throughout Bridge River Valley. The Trust’s programs have helped to drive economic diversity, develop brand identity and build awareness of the Bridge River Valley not only as a tourism destination, but also a great place to live and work. Funding from the Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program have allowed communities to renovate and revitalize gathering spaces that are incredibly important to remote communities. Improvements to recreation facilities, especially in the community of Bralorne, has enabled community volunteers to revive the annual Bralorne Ball Tournament – a community legacy. Improved signage, e-commerce marketing, restoration of heritage sites, to name a few, have been advanced by the Trust’s Marketing initiatives and Capital Investment Analysis. Funding support through Fabulous Festivals and Events has resulted in the success and growth of Winterfest.
Q: As mentioned above, BRVCA received four grants through the Fabulous Festivals and Events program for Winterfest. How has the $10,000 over four years benefitted this annual event?
A: Winterfest is indeed a Fabulous Festival. It is one of the most anticipated events of the year, not only by full time residents, but also visitors, tourists, and part-time residents. Winterfest has grown in attendance, participation and popularity each year.
Q: All of BRVCA’s eligible projects that you’ve applied for funding for have been approved by Northern Development. Do you have any suggestions to other community associations that are looking for grants?
A: Northern Development Initiative Trust wants communities to be successful. They are a catalyst in stimulating economic growth and job creation, as well as an invaluable resource to community groups and organizations striving to move economic development initiatives to realization. The staff members are knowledgeable, approachable and available to answer questions about programs most suited to your community project or initiative. Call them!
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: Bridge River Valley Community Association is thankful for the support of NDIT.