Funds announced to study economic opportunities

The Venables Valley Producers Co-op and the Seton Lake Indian Band
were recipients of federal grants that were announced in Ashcroft last
week.

The Producers Co-op received $25,200 to
conduct a feasibility study for a facility to compost pine-beetle
killed trees, while the Seton Lake Indian Band received $99,000 to
develop an economic plan and two feasibility studies to strengthen the
local economy, thanks to an investment by the Government of Canada,
through Western Economic Diversification Canada.

Economic development officer for the Seton Lake
Indian Band, Cliff Casper (left) and Venables Valley Producers Co-op
director Jim McComb (right) received the good news on funding from MP
Chuck Strahl last week in Ashcroft

The
funding was announced by the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of
Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Member of Parliament for
Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, on behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose,
President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, Minister of
Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of Western Economic
Diversification and Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources. Funding
is provided under the Community Economic Diversification Initiative
(CEDI), a component of the federal Mountain Pine Beetle Program.

“Developing
a strong, diversified economic foundation is vital to the region in
order to overcome the challenges posed by the Mountain Pine Beetle
infestation,” said Minister Strahl. “This federal funding will enable
the region to explore ways in which to strengthen the local economy.”

“With
this funding, we will be able to explore various methods of
composting,” said Jim McComb, Director, Venables Valley Producers
Co-op.

The Venables Valley Producers Co-op will
conduct a feasibility study examining the use of pine beetle wood-chips
to create compost. The region is well suited to host such a study, and
the results could create employment in new areas of agriculture.
Additionally, the production of viable compost would assist local
producers and growers of products to raise their crops in a more
environmentally sustainable fashion.

The Seton Lake
Indian Band will use its funding to create a project team and conduct a
detailed study of current labour, capital resources and assets within
the Seton Lake community. Once the plan is complete, feasibility
studies for two business opportunities will be developed. Those studies
will describe the business opportunity, which services and goods will
be considered, identify markets for the goods and/or services, identify
value-added products, and determine the supply chain infrastructure
needed to support the new businesses.

“Today’s
funding will allow us the opportunity to identify business
opportunities and markets,” said Chief Larry Casper, Seton Lake Indian
Band. “We look forward to creating new revenue streams and providing
our people with the tools required for economic success.”

The
Cook’s Ferry Indian Band in Spences Bridge also received $200,000 to
build a First Nations interpretive centre and another $150,000 for a
feasibility study to develop certified wood products and non-timber
forest products – such as jams, soaps and teas – made with resources
harvested from the forest.

In Lytton, the Fraser
Thompson Indian Services Society received $79,920 to for a feasibility
study into bioenergy production, and a marketing analysis on
value-added wood products, that will identify products in demand both
domestically and overseas and expected social and economic gains.