Funds from the B.C. Rural Dividend Program will contribute to projects in the South Okanagan region, including an initiative to strengthen agriculture in Summerland.                                (Black Press file photo)

Funds from the B.C. Rural Dividend Program will contribute to projects in the South Okanagan region, including an initiative to strengthen agriculture in Summerland. (Black Press file photo)

Rural Dividend Grants given to South Okanagan initiatives

Funding for projects in the region comes to $271,544

The provincial government is providing funds from the B.C. Rural Dividend Program to several projects in the South Okanagan.

The funding was announced on Friday and totals $271,544.

Summerland will receive $99,992 to strengthen the community’s agriculture sector. This project will hire an agriculture development specialist to support local agriculture businesses. The goal is to increase productivity, reduce costs and promote Summerland as an agri-tourism destination.

The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association will receive $99,750 to attract Indigenous tourism to the region. This includes developing a business model for Indigenous visitor centres and artisan retail outlets, and creating a digital and marketing strategy.

The town of Oliver will receive $71,802 to create an economic development strategy to help identify new business opportunities and promote economic development partnerships for the community.

Almost $19 million in 153 single applicant and partnership project grants are being awarded to eligible local governments, First Nations and not-for-profit organizations through the Rural Dividend Program.

Grants can be up to $100,000 for a single applicant project or up to $500,000 for partnership projects.

“This funding supports the diverse needs of small towns throughout the province and the people who live in them,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Our government is getting results for people in small cities and towns in every region, creating jobs and enhancing everyday services and amenities for families around the province.”

In addition, more than $4.6 million in grants are being provided to the program’s special circumstances stream to support 23 applicants responding to economic challenges resulting from the loss of a main employer or the impacts of a natural disaster.

Additionally, $673,124 were awarded through the project development stream to communities around the province to complete preliminary work to support future projects.