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Development fund reaches milestone and forges on

The Nechako-Kitamaat Development fund passed $12 million in grants
NKDF presented a cheque of $72,668 in 2019 to the Fraser Lake Fire Rescue Training Society. (Aman Parhar file photo)

People in northern B.C. now have more recreational and cultural opportunities, as well as improved infrastructure and family supports, due to several significant investments made through the Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund (NKDF).

In May 2022, the NKDF celebrated a milestone, investing its 12-millionth grant dollar. More than 400 projects have received financial support for community economic development that creates jobs and improves community health and life for residents.

The NKDF accepts applications from local governments, First Nations and non-profit organizations that serve the geographic area from Kitimaat Village in the west to the District of Vanderhoof in the east, Lake Babine Nation (Woyenne) to the north and Ootsa Lake to the south.

The first project approved by NKDF 23 years ago was for about $1,000 to the Vanderhoof Chamber of Commerce to host a proposal-writing workshop. Since then, 413 projects have received financial support for community economic development projects that create jobs and improve community health and life for residents.

To support sustainable economic development and community building, the NKDF accepts requests for projects of all sizes, including those seeking small amounts of funding. For example, last year, the Nechako Community Arts Council received $600 to paint a mural to enhance the vibrancy of the community and promote the Arts Wing.

Nearly $336,000 has been approved in increments of $5,000 or less for 96 projects. These projects range from community infrastructure updates, such as arena lighting, information kiosks, senior facility updates and interpretive signage to feasibility studies and projects that support recreational opportunities, including sports equipment, walking trails and campsites.

On the other end of the scale, the largest grant given by NKDF was $295,000 to the District of Vanderhoof for its Downtown Revitalization project.

Since its beginning, NKDF grants have supported communities in achieving economic development and community building goals, while contributing to overall community health and stability.

“I am extremely proud of the work that Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society does in our communities and how much has been achieved over the years,” said Cindy Shelford, chair, Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society. “Our directors live in the affected region and have intimate knowledge of the communities and their needs. We work closely with the projects we fund to achieve success and enable not only our communities to thrive but also the people who call them home. Together, through a grassroots approach to economic development, we have accomplished much, and we look forward to partnering on many more projects.”