Six locals from Tumbler Ridge attended the Direct Access Grant infomrationa seminar in Dawson Creek on Saturday, July 22nd. The basis of the seminar was to walk potential applicants through the grant writing itself and to answer questions regarding what criteria matches and who can apply under what circumstance.
Coordinated through the office of South Peace MLA Blair Lekstrom?s office, the speaker for the event, Ursula Cowland is the Director of Licensing and Proceeds Distribution Division, located in Victoria, BC. Cowland was informative and humourous, taking self-deprecating jabs at herself as well as the many presumed flaws in the government run initiative. It made for an entertaining afternoon, which could have otherwise been painfully long-winded over a three-hour period pouring over 16 pages of type, section by section.
The aspect of applying and receiving a Direct access Grant is fueled by the amount he government is willing to dish out. $140 million per annum, split between the categories of 1) Arts, Culture and Sport 2) Public Safety 3) Environment 4) Human and Social Services (including Service Organizations) 5) Major Capital Project Grant (for projects exceeding $20,000) 6) Parent Advisory Councils and District Parent Advisory Councils. Cowland was quick to point out that while the $140 million sounded like a lot, the applications received, if all granted would exceed $300 million each year.
Of course the awarding of any grant can be thwarted by matching funds, etc. and at the end of the seminar a representative for the Ministry of Economic Development made a public service announcement regarding an additional; $50 million had been allotted to the Northern Development Initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to possibly fund where Direct Access may not be able to completely cover or not fund at all. The Province provided the additional amount in December 2005, including $30 million specifically aimed at helping communities respond to the mountain pine beetle infestation.
All of the information available at the conference is also on the website for the grant process at www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/gaming. Attending the conference from Tumbler Ridge were John Kohlhauser, Doug Foerster, Jerrilyn Schembri, Rich and Lisa McCrea, Carole-May Coty and Erin Hanna.