Saturday, January 27, 2007

32 million on the table

If you have an idea on how to reduce the impact of the Mountain pine beetle, there could be a rather worthwhile reward for you. The Northern Development Initiative Trust has put 32 million dollars out there in the form of grants and loans for those who have some good ideas.

An “open call for expressions of interest” has been made to try and attract some workable ideas on how to tackle the Mountain pine beetle problem and provide for long term partnerships between communities, First Nations, business and organizations.

The Daily news featured the developments with a front page story in Thursday’s paper.

Some $32 million is available to help towns move ahead in the coming years
By James Vassallo
The Daily News
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Pages one and three

The Northern Development Initiative Trust has put $32 million on the table for anyone with a plan to lessen the impacts of the mountain pine beetle.

Expressions of interest for the grants and loans will be reviewed by a team comprised of members from community beetle action coalitions, the First Nations, Forestry Council, and the Northern Trust.

“In the past year, we’ve approved $27.5 million in investments for Northern and Central B. C., with a total value of $173 million,” said Bruce Sutherland, Northern Trust chair.

“Now we’re going to dramatically ramp up that success with an open call for expressions of interest.”

Proposals will be invited that diversify the economy of communities that demonstrate how they are impacted by the epidemic. Preference will be given to proposals for long-term partnerships between communities, First Nations, business, and organizations.

“We will work together on economic diversification opportunities that showcase the strength, resilience and collaboration of Northern B. C. to the rest of the country and the world,’ said Sutherland.

“We (also) hope that taking the lead will spur some further good news announcements (from the federal government).

Northern Trust will work side-by-side with communities hardest hit by the pine beetle, with whom they developed the new funding program through the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition (OBAC), the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition (CCBAC), and the First Nations Mountain Pine Beetle Initiative.

“This fund provides opportunities to develop and leverage partnerships on projects that are planned by First Nations with recently-signed forest agreements,” said Chief Leonard Thomas of the First Nations Forestry Council.

”It recognizes that First Nations have a role in the development of the North.”

Vanderhoof Mayor Len Fox, chair of the Omineca Beetle Action Coalition, said the new fund will work by “providing a link between community needs and funding sources.”

“The challenge; will be over the next five or 10 years to keep our communities whole with a different type of economy. That’s going to take a lot more resources than the $32 million.”

Quesnel Mayor Nate Bello, director of CCBAC and the Northern Trust Board, adds that the ‘ Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition is building industry diversification strategies, and proposals the to the Northern Trust will grow the economy of the Cariboo.”

“The time (has come) to turn the plans into positive projects, and I don’t think the announcement of this account could some at a more opportune time,” said Bello. “Our coalition has done a few economic development planning scenarios around agriculture, around tourism… around retention and recruitment of businesses and also about retention of population so they don’t go south any more.

“If (people) are staying north, we have to provide them with a quality environment.”

While the initial infusion was $30 million, the Northern Trust has grown the Pine Beetle Recovery Account another $2 million through investment. As part of the group’s 2007 strategic plan, it is estimated that $215 million in loans and grants could flow into investments that help communities reach their economic potential. Those interested in applying for grants or loans through the trust can visit

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