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B.C. investing in healthy northern communities

Nathan Cullen

New projects supporting social, health and community services in areas experiencing rapid economic growth will benefit people in the province’s North as a result of the Northern Healthy Communities Fund.

“This funding is contributing to the long-term resilience of northern communities by ensuring people have services they need to help them thrive,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Municipal Affairs, in a news relese. “Our government’s ongoing investments in supports and services is helping many communities manage the large economic growth happening in their region.”

The Northern Development Initiative Trust administers the Northern Healthy Communities Fund on behalf of the B.C. government. To support people with new and expanded local services, 14 projects are receiving more than $1.3 million through the fund’s fifth and sixth intakes.

“Many organizations have been approved for funding to allow for increased capacity and services as they support their communities’ changing needs during this time of rapid and large-scale economic development,” said Joel McKay, chief executive officer, Northern Development Initiative Trust. “Having professionals and processes in place will increase the livability of communities for residents in all stages of life and increase their resiliency in the future.”

Examples of new projects that will benefit people include:

* hiring more emergency services department staff, a new junior planning position and a communications co-ordinator to help with increased demands in the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine;

* creating a position in Terrace to address mental-health needs, homelessness and substance-use issues for people experiencing major barriers; and

* increasing capacity in the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako to help improve the health, social and economic outcomes of all residents in the region in a holistic, reconciliation-centred collaboration.

Eligible local governments, First Nations and non-profit organizations that provide supports and services to people in expanding communities near the Coastal Gaslink and LNG Canada projects can apply for project funding through the Northern Healthy Communities Fund. Since its beginning, 46 projects have received funding totalling more than $5 million.

“Our regional district is grateful that this funding supports efforts to build meaningful relationships with local First Nations and explore collaboration on economic development and other initiatives,” said Gerry Thiessen, board chair, Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako. “This furthers the role of local government in the reconciliation process and aligns us with the Province’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. Our First Nations liaison position supports our commitment to discuss the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions’ 94 Calls to Action and supports local First Nations in their advocacy for reconciliation efforts in the region.”

The program is accepting applications for the next funding intakes. New projects will be announced until 2026.

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