The Province is opening its purse strings and handing out some cash to 11 projects in the North under the B.C. Rural Dividend Program.
In total, the government is doling out $1.76 million to communities in the Northwest and Nechako regions.
The Town of Smithers is getting $80,000. Half of that money will go to developing an active transportation plan.
Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach said the goal is to look at what the town currently has and come up with a plan for building safe accessible infrastructure.
“Past town councils have undertaken on a whole host of projects to improve the ability for people to get around town using active transportation but we’ve never really had a cohesive plan that looks at connectivity and a long range strategy for infrastructure,” he said.
“Smithereens are really active folks, and even though we have winter for several months of the year, a lot of people in the community want to get around by walking and biking and using other active transportation. This plan is about supporting that aspiration and providing people with safe and convenient options.”
The Town will hire a consultant who will look at existing plans and engage the public to find out what people want.
The other half of the money will go towards upgrading the Perimeter Trail system. Most of the work will happen in the Riverside Park area.
“It is an opportunity to make that much-loved trail safer and more accessible for folks in the community,” said Bachrach.
He added the Town hasn’t figured out a fix for the closed portion behind the Alpine Village Estates at the end of Second Avenue yet and this money won’t address that location.
$100,000 for New Hazelton tourism
Another community in the region that is getting money from the BC Rural Dividend Program is the District of New Hazelton. They are set to get $100,000 for or a northern B.C. tourism marketing initiative.
Deklan Corstanje, economic development officer for the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, said the project is a collaboration between several destination marketing organizations and governments in the region.
“It will involve creation of a research-based plan, a website, content and marketing tactics to advertise the region. By bringing all of the consortium partners together, the shared, cohesive voice will provide increased opportunity for the entire region to prosper,” he said.
Regional virtual reality tourism
The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako is also being awarded some money for tourism.
The District will get $98,750 to target the tourism market through four activities: creating a discovery app for residents and tourists, starting a series of virtual reality experiences, joining Canada’s User Generated Content Partner Network and producing an investment readiness package for potential tourism businesses.