One of the departments working diligently on behalf of western Canadians is the department of Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD). Established in 1987, WD works to improve the long-term economic competitiveness of the West and the quality of life of its citizens by supporting a wide range of initiatives targeting inter-related project activities including innovation, business development and community economic development.
Under the very capable leadership of my colleague, the Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, Mrs. Lynne Yelich, western communities like our own have benefited from a number of programs designed to support our local economy.
Here in the Okanagan, WD has supported several important projects including an investment for UBCO to acquire high-tech equipment and create a microfabrication facility, and funding for the Okanagan Research and Innovation Centre’s expansion into Kelowna.
And just last year, I was pleased to announce that the Governments of Canada and British Columbia, together through the Western Economic Partnership Agreement, invested more than $2.1 million for Accelerate Okanagan to provide incubation and business acceleration services for local companies.
WD was also instrumental in supporting local infrastructure through the Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) program, a major job creating investment under Canada’s Economic Action Plan. This funding supported several local projects including the reconstruction of the Mission Creek Greenway and the Central Okanagan YMCA-YWCA expansion.
Infrastructure funding, especially recreational infrastructure, not only supports our local economic objectives and creates jobs, it ensures that residents enjoy access to facilities that improve our quality of life.
That is why earlier this summer, through Economic Action Plan 2012, our federal government announced that a limited amount of infrastructure funding was available to local communities through the new Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF) a two-year national program that will invest $150 million to rehabilitate and improve existing community infrastructure across Canada.
Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) will invest over $46 million under CIIF in Western Canada.
I’m using this opportunity to let local organizations know that CIIF is currently accepting applications for the second round of funding until November 19th. The first round of funding received a great deal of interest and it is expected that this will be the case in the second round.
Organizations eligible to apply for funding under CIIF include local or regional governments or related agencies; provincial entities that provide municipal-type services to communities; non-profit organizations; and First Nation governments, including Band or Tribal Councils or their legally-designated representatives.
The CIIF supports the rehabilitation or improvement of existing community infrastructure that is non-commercial and accessible to the public including: community centres; cultural centres; parks; libraries; recreational facilities (e.g. local arenas, swimming pools, sports fields, and other types of recreational facilities); tourism facilities having a local impact; and other existing community infrastructure assets which have a local community impact such as connectivity and broadband and local airports.
Applicants seeking less than $250,000 in CIIF funding will receive priority and organizations which apply must leverage at least 50% of total eligible project costs from sources other than the federal government and have all work completed prior to March 31, 2014.
New infrastructure or the significant expansion of existing facilities will not be eligible under this funding.
I encourage any organizations with an interest in pursuing this funding to go to www.wd.gc.ca to obtain information on eligible projects, the application process, and to review frequently asked questions. Applicants may also contact Western Economic Diversification (WD) by calling 1 888 338-WEST (9378).
Partnerships such as those supported by the Government of Canada through Western Economic Diversification and programs like the Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund have a good track record in our community and I am confident that with ongoing support, our community will continue to realize our potential through strong economic growth and a good quality of life for all our citizens.
Should you have any questions related to this program or any other federal program or service, do not hesitate to contact me at 250 470-5075 or [email protected] I will continue to work out of my constituency office until I return to Ottawa in September.
Ron Cannan is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country