NW Week

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Grants for rural development will help the Nicola Valley economy grow

Nicola Valley will benefit from rural development grants.

Key Takeaways:

  • With the Nicola Valley, the province established a series of rural development prizes to aid economic diversification and development.
  • The abattoir will be a govt and regulated facility that will provide a comprehensive range of red meat processing services.
  • Meanwhile, Merritt has received a $500,000 grant to assist in the economic recovery of flood-affected districts.

The province announced a series of rural development awards in the Nicola Valley to help with economic diversification and development.

This is the next chapter in Merritt’s StrongerBC Economic Plan and ongoing recovery work following the November 2017 floods.

In a press release, parliamentary secretary for rural as well as regional development Roly Russell said, “Individuals in Merritt have been through a lot in the last year, and they know how essential economic recovery is for community restoration.”

The Small-Scale Meat Producers Association will receive a $1 million rural development grant from the provincial government to create a community abattoir in the Merritt region.

Local farmers and ranchers will benefit from meat processing and cut-and-wrap services.

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In a press statement, Minister of Agriculture and Food Lana Popham said, “This project provides major job and economic prospects for the region while ensuring local ranches, abattoirs, and businesses are part of a robust, resilient B.C. food system.”

“With recent revisions to B.C.’s meat-licensing system including investments in facilities such as the Nicola Valley community abattoir, this resuscitation of the small-scale meat sector helps increase our food security and resiliency.”

The abattoir will be a government-inspected and regulated institution that offers a full range of red meat processing services.

According to the province, the lack of processing capacity has harmed local producers. Julia Smith, a pork and beef producer in Merrit, is optimistic that the new facility will benefit her and other local producers.

“In 2016, my partner and I relocated to the Nicola Valley to expand our business to fulfill the growing demand for locally farmed beef. However, we soon discovered that the processors we relied on could not keep up with our production, and we were forced to scale back rather than grow the firm.”

“We were on the verge of abandoning the project. But now we’re eager to keep going since this facility will allow us, as well as other local family farms and also ranches, to grow and thrive while also increasing community food security.”

Nicola Valley will benefit from rural development grants.
Nicola Valley will benefit from rural development grants. Image from CBC News

The Scw’exmx Tribal Council will receive a $1 million rural development grant from the province for Gateway 286 in Merritt.

“After an amazing year of fires, floods, and then a pandemic, we welcome the B.C. govt’s $1-million grant that will bolster with us rural community, endorse good-paying jobs, and also much economic development,” said Spayum Holdings LP director but also Scw’exmx Tribal Council Terrence (Lee) Spahan in a press release.

“The Gateway 286 project is a 30-year vision of former and current Nicola Valley Indigenous Chiefs. This funding will assist us to get one step closer to realizing our economic and tourism development goals.” This project would improve the [traveling] public’s experience by providing much-needed services and generating good-paying jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for Nicola Valley people.”

Meanwhile, the City of Merritt has been awarded a $500,000 grant to aid in the economic rehabilitation of flood-affected areas. The money will be used to finish economic development plans and activities that will help the economy recover in the long run.

In addition, the City of Merritt will get $329,000 in provincial money to update flood-hazard mapping and build new flood-mitigation plans.

Source: Global News

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