Many consultants to local government suggest that elected officials should not expect their communities to survive on grants. To be able to upgrade costly infrastructure when grants are available, it is important to have a plan to get in the queue. When senior governments put out press releases on local governments receiving infrastructure improvement grants, many constituents do not realize the work that has to go into preparing for that funding. To get grants, local governments need to put in place an asset management plan that indicates future upgrades of all their infrastructure. Most grant applications have to be “shovel ready,” which means staff have not only written the application but have done the necessary plans and drawings to complete the project. To be shovel ready, staff could have easily been working on a particular project for years, with the idea of developing it, using local taxpayers’ funds. Most applications require public consultation and board confirmation, but many times projects are put on hold because of budget costs. Recently the regional district has been fortunate to get grants for costly water and liquid waste projects to reduce long-term debt for local taxpayers.
Often local government future building and upgrade plans do not fit the prerequisites of many grants. Staff therefore are constantly monitoring press releases and non-government organization briefs to see if some of these groups have grants for which a local government can apply. There are grants from many organizations that are not available for local government but can be applied for by local not-for-profit groups.
One example where local government and non-government organizations can apply for a grant under a set criteria is Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET). This is a granting organization that gets input from northern Vancouver Island and Sunshine Coast mayors and regional chairs, who meet to distribute funds to different communities that apply to enhance their particular economic climates. Applications are thoroughly vetted to make sure that all projects are viable and that they meet the funding ratio between the grant and other funds required, as ICET does not fund 100 per cent of any project. This granting organization has helped produce many economic successes in rural communities on the Coast and Vancouver Island; local examples are the Gibsons Farmer’s Market and the start-up funds to organize the Sunshine Coast regional economic development organization.
In the proposed provincial budget there is a line item for $10 million to support a continued economic development program by ICET, and all mayors and chairs involved in this program will be speaking to their local MLA for that support.
Please contact me at 604-741-2427 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to discuss SCRD programs or plans.