The Bulkley Valley Community Foundation (BVCF) is partnering with the Prince George Community Foundation (PGCF) and Shuswap Community Foundation (SCF) to work across central and northern B.C. to distribute $987,000 to transform public spaces in response to COVID-19.
This funding is part of the Government of Canada’s new $31 million Healthy Communities Initiative that will support community-led organizations in developing local, small-scale infrastructure projects that respond to the immediate needs arising from COVID-19.
Community organizations can apply to the BVCF for funding between $5,000 and $250,000 to lead projects that help create safe and vibrant public spaces, improve mobility options, and provide digital solutions to help neighbourhoods or communities navigate the pandemic.
Projects could include adapting crosswalks and access to public transportation to allow for physical distancing, the creation of community gardens and art installations and free wi-fi in targeted public spaces.
A variety of community-led organizations are eligible to apply, including local governments, charities, Indigenous communities, and registered non-profit organizations.
“Public spaces are the glue to our communities: they enable a feeling of belonging and of social cohesion,” said Mindy Stroet, PGCF director of development and Roger Parenteau, SCF manager, in a joint statement. “They are a big part of what makes communities safe, vibrant and connected.
“As these regions of B.C. face increased isolation due to COVID-19, the Healthy Communities Initiative will help our community to connect safely and will benefit the mental and physical well-being of our residents. We are thrilled to be working with the Bulkley Valley Community Foundation on this initiative.”
“This is a great project as it is open to all non-profit organizations, not just registered charities,” said Deb Camenzind, BVCF office administrator.
Some of the suggested ideas for northern regions would be bike loaner programs, pop up tents for senior activities such as yoga, winter heating stations, building or revitalizing trails such the Smithers Perimeter Trail or Cycle 16, lending libraries of digital equipment like iPads for seniors to help them learn about the internet, murals and art projects, community gardens etc.
“Anything that helps the whole community and the people in this area,” Camenzind said.
“The important part is that it really opens up who can apply. Having the requirements now open to all non-profit groups makes the funding much more available to a greater diversity of groups. I’m very excited to see the applications that come in.”
The application period for the first round of funding is open until March 9 with a second application period starting in May.