Quesnel’s Alex Fraser Park and the Barkerville Heritage Trust have each received grants from the province, allowing them to improve facilities, according to news releases issued today (Sept. 18) from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD).
The Cariboo Regional District’s animal housing facility at Alex Fraser Park in Quesnel will be upgraded thanks to a $500,000 Rural Dividend grant.
The Ministry release says the funds will be used to replace the existing Fur and Feather building at Alex Fraser Park with an open-concept structure that can be configured for different uses, including agricultural events and training opportunities, as well as accommodating livestock and pets during animal evacuations. Alex Fraser Park housed evacuated pets and livestock from across the region during the 2017 wildfires.
The Fur and Feather building was identified by the Alex Fraser Park Society as an area in need of significant improvement earlier this year.
FLNRORD Minister Doug Donaldson said the grant will also fund the development of additional agricultural courses at the College of New Caledonia, as well as the agri-industry and event tourism in the area.
“Alex Fraser Park is a key resource in our region and a hub for housing evacuated animals,” said Margo Wagner, chair of the Cariboo Regional District.
“Thanks to the Province’s support, we can improve the facilities and, in turn, build our region’s resiliency and preparedness and support other communities in emergencies.”
And the Barkerville Heritage Trust has also been given a Rural Dividend grant of $500,000 from the province to provide on-site housing to seasonal Barkerville staff.
The funds will be used to build on-site, seasonal staff accommodations in the Barkerville Historic Town and Park. The project provides a temporary solution to the housing shortage in the area, while work toward a permanent, sustainable housing solution continues, says the Ministry’s news release.
The housing project will create future opportunities for revenue and partnerships with the local forestry and mining industry.
“Barkerville Historic Town and Park, governed by The Barkerville Heritage Trust, is thankful for this critical investment in staff housing,” said Ed Coleman, the trust’s CEO. “A tourism asset of our size, which generates $25 million in regional and provincial economic impacts, relies extensively on a reliable staff housing strategy. This investment provides an immediate opportunity to address a critical seasonal housing need, as we continue to work on the long-term strategy with our partners.”
Barkerville attracts 70,000 visitors annually, and is a key economic driver for the region.
Both Barkerville and Alex Fraser Park received the grants as part of a special circumstances provision that was designed to assist communities undergoing economic hardship for a variety of reasons, including the 2017 wildfires.
As part of Budget 2018, the Government of British Columbia committed to extending the $25-million-per-year Rural Dividend to 2020-21. The Rural Dividend is one aspect of government’s rural development mandate, which is committed to making rural communities more resilient.