The Regional District of East Kootenay will close their facilities to public access while remaining open for business in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. File photo.

Community groups seek CBT funds through Community Initiatives program

In the Elk Valley, three of four subdivisions are over-subscribed for funding requests

Community engagement is currently open for applications for funding to the RDEK’s Community Initiatives program, with dozens of community groups seeking grant funding to further their programs.

The program is funded by the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) but managed by the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK), with previous funding approvals from last year including Angel Flight’s set up costs, the Elk River Alliance’s weeding program, the Sparwood Trail Alliance’s ongoing trail expansions and dozens of other programs.

The program provides funding to local projects that add value to basin communities annually, with only single-year projects considered. Each municipal subdivision within the RDEK is allocated funding. A little over $1 million will be distributed across the RDEK’s electoral areas and municipalities in the current round.

Within the Elk Valley, over $200,000 has been earmarked for allocation to local projects, with allocations for Fernie, Sparwood and Area A being oversubscribed. Elkford is under-subscribed. Most applications overlap the different areas and municipalities.

Within Fernie, 25 groups that operate within the area have applied for funding from the $66,278.35 allocated to the municipality. The sum total of all funding requests is $84,426 – a difference of almost $20,000.

Groups that have applied with programs that benefit the city include Wildsight Elk Valley – which has submitted a request for $5,326 of the city’s allocation to protect and safeguard the ammonite fossil from over-tourism.

Other groups include Southeast Kootenay School District No. 5 – which wants to develop outdoor learning kits, the Fernie Trails and Ski Touring Club – which is building a new warming hut, the Fernie Pride Society which is seeking funding for this year’s Elk Valley Pride Festival (the society has also requested funding from Sparwood, Elkford, Area A and Area B’s allocations), the Elk Valley Family Society for a new common room in Chrysalis House, Elk Valley Air Search and Rescue for a new emergency locator beacon,,the Fernie and District Historical Society for a gallery update, and more.

Sparwood is also oversubscribed, with groups asking for more than $20,000 over the allocated total for the district. Sparwood was assigned $56,863.38, with 23 groups requesting a total of $79,925 in funds.

Some of the applications include the Elk Valley Seniors Housing Society, which has requested funding for improvements to the kitchen at Lilac Terrace, the Michel Natal Sparwood Heritage Society which is planning to develop a Mining History Walking Tour, the Sparwood Golf Club which is continuing to improve it’s infrastructure and has requested help, and the Sparwood Secondary School which has put in a request for funding for a sawmill to allow students the opportunity to mill logs into lumber, which will then be used to build projects in carpentry classes.

Area A has a similar conundrum as Sparwood and Fernie, with 21 groups with programs that benefit the area requesting $53,380 – well above the $34,436.31 allocated to the electoral area.

Many of the groups that have indicated Area A as being the beneficiary of their activities have also requested funding through the neighbouring municipalities.

Only Elkford was under-subscribed. The district was allocated $45,501.37, and the 13 groups that nominated their projects as benefiting the town have only requested $24,655.

Funding requests that are unique to Elkford include funds for common area furnishing and a tenant computer for the Elkford Housing Society which will be building a 22-unit building for seniors and those living with disabilities in Elkford, funds for a compactor for the Elkford Nordic Ski Club, a new groomer for the Elkford Snowmobile Association and the before-mentioned overlapping requests with the neighbouring municipalities.

Community engagement and feedback is open until noon on March 23 – submissions can be made online at the RDEK’s website. Details on each subdivision and the funding requests made are also available at the RDEK’s engage website. Funding recommendations will be made to the RDEK in early May, with recommendations voted on by the RDEK board in June.

Due to the pandemic, there will be no in-person community engagement or meetings for this year.

READ MORE: Wildsight looks to safeguard famed fossil
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