Businesses and non-profit organizations in wildfire-affected communities in the Cariboo-Chilcotin/Lillooet area will soon have additional support thanks to a partnership between Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT), Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) – (CFDC Cariboo Chilcotin, CFDC North Cariboo and CFDC Sun Country) and the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition (CCBAC).
Thanks to this partnership, an emergency response co-ordinator and business ambassadors will work from CFDC offices in Quesnel, Williams Lake and Ashcroft until Oct. 3, 2018 to help businesses access resources to help with wildfire recovery.
As a result of the worst wildfire season in provincial history, many businesses in the Cariboo-Chilcotin and Thompson-Nicola regions are struggling to recover, reopen and generate revenue.
While many programs and services already exist or have recently been established to assist with wildfire recovery efforts, accessing these resources can be a daunting and time-consuming task for business owners who are busy managing their day-to-day operations.
The new positions will help businesses assess the impact of the wildfires on their operations, match their needs to available programs and services, assist with appropriate referrals and application processes and collect information that can help communities better understand the wildfire impacts in order to support new program development.
These positions will be working in collaboration with other wildfire response programs to complement and promote resources available through organizations, such as Emergency Management BC, the Red Cross and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
Community Futures welcomed the new staff members earlier this month:
• Emergency response co-ordinator Sue Lachance;
• Business ambassadors – Quesnel: Laurie Rice and Simon Turner; and
• Business ambassadors – Williams Lake: Deanne Hoversland and Alisha Piccolo
The Community Futures Wildfire Recovery Business Support program will begin working with businesses in January 2018.
The positions are funded with $200,000 from NDIT, $140,000 from CCBAC and $56,000 from CFDC.
NDIT’s board allocated the funds for the program to support communities that were not only hit by recent wildfires, but were also among some of the hardest hit by pine beetle infestation in previous years.
Evan Saugstad, who is the NDIT chair, says Northern Development is pleased to be able to provide assistance to the businesses and organizations in the Cariboo-Chilcotin and Thomson-Nicola regions affected by the wildfires this past year.
“The Trust’s partnership with Community Futures and the CCBAC on this project, in conjunction with the recovery efforts being made across central B.C., will help ensure the organizations affected by the wildfires will receive sufficient support in accessing the resources available to them.
“This program will play a key role in ensuring the success of the economic recovery efforts being made across the region and will be essential in facilitating important information to impacted businesses and organizations.”
Karen Eden, CFDC – Cariboo-Chilcotin general manager, says Community Futures is excited to be involved with this project.
The challenge for businesses and not-for-profit organizations is understanding and accessing appropriate resources.
“The one-on-one assistance provided by the business ambassadors will help to ensure businesses are able to effectively and efficiently access programs and services that will assist with staying open and having ongoing sustainability.”